Monday, February 23, 2009

You mean the Internet can be wrong?!

Once again, I love The Onion. I just finished reading "Factual Error Found on Internet." Shocking stuff, absolutely shocking.

"Recently Unearthed E-mail Reveals What Life Was Like in 1995" is another fun technology-related article. It reminds me of this book I had when I was a kid, Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay. An archaeologist from far in the future examines a burial site that readers will recognize as being a motel, interpreting the things he finds there in a hilariously wrong way. Neither this book nor The Onion's article are very flattering depictions of the work that archaeologists do, but they're still both funny. I guess I should wrap this up with an archaeologist-themed article--

"Archaeologist Tired of Unearthing Unspeakable Ancient Evils" - Some writer at The Onion must have been brainstorming one day and said to himself, "Imagine if Indiana Jones were a real guy..."

Interesting books cataloged Feb. 17-20

I got a little behind on listing interesting books, but there really wasn't much I felt like listing. Actually, I'm thinking I might make these TBR lists a weekly, rather than daily, thing.
  • Writing well : the essential guide by Mark Tredinnick [PE1408 .T74 2008] - Not something I'd necessarily want to read for fun, but it seemed like it could be a very helpful, yet still readable, book.
  • Blood legacy : the true story of the Snow axe murders by James Pylant [HV6533.T4 P95 2008] - Local (or nearly local - I think this happened not far outside of Stephenville) history. The photographs alone make this something not suitable for those with weak stomachs. I had to create the LC call number for this - I chose to class it as "Murders in Texas" rather than as "Snow family genealogy" although the record I was asked to choose does list the "Snow family" aspect as one of the first subject headings.
  • See Sam run : a mother's story of autism by Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe [RJ506 .A9 H43 2008] - This is one that just grabbed me while I was flipping through it. It looks to be a very interesting and honest description of what it was like for the author to raise an autistic child. There's a little bit at the end written by Sam in 2005. The annotated bibliography also looks very good.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Onion's Hurriphoonado

I love The Onion - it can make me laugh until I cry. I just finished reading "Hurriphoonado Cuts Swath of Destruction Across Eastern, Western Hemispheres." It's like every single natural disaster news article from the past few years, all balled up in a giant mass of world-destroying horror. I particularly liked the bit about the hurriphoonado being classified as "an F4 tornado, Category 5 hurricane, and Level 7 redemptive act of God." By the way, this world-destroyer's name is Claire. Since this is the first-recorded hurriphoonado, shouldn't its name begin with an A?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Google Street View - Chicago

Today I discovered Google Street View - it's surprisingly addictive, even though it's also a little freaky. I can't help but be reminded of an article I read in The Onion a few years ago - "Google Announces Plan to Destroy All Information It Can't Index." (Another fun Google-related article which has nothing to do with this post but which reminds me of some computer instruction classes I used to help out with - "Google Launches 'The Google' for Older Adults.")

Google Street View doesn't have everything (yet - cue evil laughter), so I could only virtually visit one of the places I've lived/visited, Chicago. Here's a short tour:

I tried the address for the tiny apartment I stayed at while in Chicago, but Google Street View couldn't take me there. This is the closest I came - I think the apartment is only a short way up this street, to the left.

To the right is the Barnes and Noble I used to walk past in order to get to class and work. I was a poor student, so I didn't often go in.

Here is where I worked, attended lectures, and spent hours doing research for what ended up being a 60-page paper. The Newberry Library is a beautiful place and has some great resources, but I'd have to say that the best way to experience it is to get some kind of job that will allow you to go into the stacks. This is a closed stacks library, so the average user has to request things in order to be able to see them. I can't remember what the department was called now, but when I worked there I worked in the area where they do microfilming and digitization - I entered information from many, many cards into FileMaker. Originally, I had thought I'd be creating simple metadata for train blueprints (this is what my job description said I would be doing during the four months of the program I was taking part in), but that job was given to an intern. I was a bit jealous of the students who got jobs as pages - they got to go into the stacks all the time. On the plus side, my hours were more flexible than theirs.

My absolute favorite restaurant in Chicago was Panang, a place with (while I was there, anyway) reasonable prices and really good Thai food. I got addicted to their lychee smoothies (the chewy "bubbles" were fun) and did my best to work my way through their menu. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to try everything - I could only afford to eat there once a week, tops. If you ever get a chance to visit Chicago (or if you live there), I highly recommend this place.

I've got one more Google Street Maps post planned, one about the Street With a View project, but I don't think I'll be getting to that tonight...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wolverine - Fun future and familiar characters

I've known about the Wolverine movie for a while, but I didn't really start looking into it until today. I admit, I wasn't too excited about it (Wolverine's backstory, while not uninteresting, is not something I want to watch for an entire movie), but now that I've found out a few extras details I'd really like to see it. The main thing that makes me want to see it is that I've just found out a few of Marvel characters I like are going to turn up: Gambit (played by Taylor Kitsch) and Deadpool (played by Ryan Reynolds). I believe Gambit's name flashed onscreen sometime during one of the first two X-Men movies, but I hadn't ever really expected him to show up. I'm guessing that, with the age difference between movie Gambit and movie Rogue, the comic book's romantic storyline involving those two characters probably won't come up. However, you never know.

As far as Deadpool goes, I'm just amazed he's being allowed onscreen. I love the character, I really do, but I also realize that there are a lot of things he does that could be considered unacceptable in a live action movie (versus a comic book). Just as a general example, the guy is cheerfully homicidal and keeps an elderly blind lady prisoner (sort of - it's a really complex and strange relationship). He kills lots and lots of people, and yet, the way it's done in the comics, this is sometimes more funny than horrific. In Wolverine, Deadpool is just going to get a brief appearance, but there are already rumors that he'll be getting a movie of his own. That's nice, but how will moviemakers balance the original story's bizarre humor, violence, and drama? He can't be Deadpool without the full mix.

The article I read ("10 Essential Facts about 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'" by Matt McDaniel) mentioned that the Wolverine movie is only the first of a whole slew of movies planned to be made that will be set in the same world. Only two are mentioned in this article - "Magneto" and "X-Men: First Class." Although "X-Men: First Class" has the potential to be too geared towards a teenage audience (there's a whole article about that, as well), I'm still more interested in that than "Magento."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Toilet of Modern Art in Vienna

I'll quit with the weird stuff soon, I promise. But first - the Toilet of Modern Art in Vienna! Yes, there really is such a thing. Actually, what I pictured in my head was much stranger than this. It was probably fun to put together, though.

I'll have the Stir-fried wikipedia

I spend way too much time looking at weird stuff on the Internet. This latest is a travel blog with a few entries about really terrible translations (and funny signs, archaic/odd laws, etc.). The book The Dumbest Generation (see my earlier post) had me thinking about things like Wikipedia, so the stir-fried wikipedia had me choking on my discounted Valentine's Day cookies.

Are you smarter than a unicorn?

It turns out I'm not quite as smart as a unicorn, but I'm close. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, check out FUNimation's little quiz. The actual questions don't have anything to do with anime, but this page still manages to be dangerous for me. All those pictures... And the phrase "great deal on anime box sets." I'll try to resist, but Mushi-Shi may very well snare me (watch Mushi-Shi on Hulu and tell me that's not a gorgeous show). Speed Grapher is a possibility, even though I don't know too much about it, but the sale price is still more than I'd like to pay.

In the future, there may only be one anime producer/distributor left in the US (I'm thinking of Geneon's demise) -- unless FUNimation overextends itself, that distributor may end up being FUNimation. Man, do they have some good titles.

Interesting books cataloged on Feb. 16th

  • The collectors by David Baldacci [PS3552 .A446 C65 2006] - I've never read anything by this author, but... a suspense story involving the Library of Congress and a rare book? Could be my kind of thing.
  • The dumbest generation : how the digital age stupefies young Americans and jeopardizes our future (or, don't trust anyone under 30) by Mark Bauerlein [HQ799.7 .B38 2008] - I list this as an interesting book, because it is, but I doubt I'll be reading it - just skimming its contents has the potential to raise my blood pressure. I'm not that old, but I feel old sometimes when I find myself amazed (and not always in a good way) by some of the things that high school students and undergraduates do or don't do. I don't have nearly as low an opinion of their abilities as this author seems to, however. I'm also not inclined to put all the blame in the same place he does. I think I'd have lots of fun arguing with this guy, if the blood vessels in my head didn't explode first.

Friday, February 13, 2009

TBR stuff, courtesy of Unshelved's banners

It's been a few days since I last looked at Unshelved, but that was enough time to miss the beginning of the "Book a Day" banners. Fortunately, they'll be sticking around for a bit in the Unshelved archives - yay! I always love adding to my TBR list, even though it's always longer than I could possibly ever finish.

I've taken a look at the banners, and here's what I'd like to read sometime (this is almost, but not quite, everything from those banners):
  • The God Stalker Chronicles by P.C. Hodgell - This is actually two books in one. The description for this makes it sound odd and confusing, yet still potentially appealing. I'm willing to give it a try sometime. Although the description made me think of books by lots of other authors (Robert Jordan, Guy Gavriel Kay, etc.), this book seems to have things that their books don't (not that I remember, anyway): a female main character (makes me think of Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley) and a quirky sense of humor (hopefully it doesn't turn out to be more accurate to say that the description, rather than the book, has a quirky sense of humor).
  • The Battered Body by J.B. Stanley - I've only really started to read mysteries in the past five years or so, and I still don't read them very often. However, some of my favorite mystery authors write cozies, so I like to try out new cozies every once in a while. Food cozies, like this one, can be fun, even if I could never make the recipes that tend to come with them work out. I may occasionally like to bake and cook, but I'm not good at it, and hardly any of these recipes ever seem to be of the "For Dummies" sort.
  • Tea in the Library by Annette Freeman - I tend to just gobble up books that have connections to books (or places with books). Freeman writes about fulfilling her dream of opening a bookshop cafe, only to discover that running a bookshop can be more frustrating and difficult than she ever imagined.
  • Rhapsody in Green: The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverley Nichols edited by Roy C. Dicks - I've never read any of Nichols's works and I'm not a gardener, but this book looks funny and interesting all the same.
  • A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny - Another cozy mystery, this one set in a small Canadian village. What caught my eye about this one was a quote from the book - apparently, one of the characters really does have a rule against murder.
  • The Color of Earth (vol. 1) and The Color of Water (vol.2) by Kim Dong Hwa - I don't read a lot of Korean manwha, so I don't know this author/artist, but the sites I've linked to have a couple sample pages - the artwork is clean and simple, but pretty. I like the covers of these books even more. The actual story sounds more serious than what I usually read, but I'd be willing to give it a try (although I suspect I should wait a while before trying to get these through ILL). Since this is manwha, however, I'll have to train my eyes not to read it from right to left (most Japanese manga is now published in the US in the original Japanese right to left format) - I even started to read the sample pages from right to left before I caught myself!

Cataloging responsibly

I'm generally pretty confident when creating bibliographic records for DSL's catalog - when cataloging for your own institution, you can bend or even break just about any rule you want, as long as you understand the implications of what you are doing (VERY important, since many of the rules were created for good reasons) and make sure you do it consistently. I'm a little less confident about adding records to the WorldCat database - I try to make sure that my records follow national standards, but sometimes the standards aren't always clear. However, if I code my records in the right way, others can edit them (the records in WorldCat, not the records in DSL's catalog) without too much trouble if necessary.

For me, the biggest problems arise when I come across a record in the WorldCat database that I know matches what I have, but the record is really awful. Any record with ELvl code 3 (doesn't meet Minimal-level cataloging specifications) or 8 (pre-publication level, such as records based only on CIP data) would be a good example. I know that I should and could edit and improve these records, but I'm not confident about doing so. A couple months or so ago in AUTOCAT, people were wondering why they so often see ELvl 3 records that haven't been upgraded and yet have lots of holdings attached to them. Many people posted, explaining that they (like me) do all or most of their cataloging in their local system - it would take additional time and effort for these people to upgrade these records. If I could go back to that discussion, I would add that not everyone has had the training to know what could/should be upgraded or replaced. OCLC has a chart that is helpful under certain circumstances, but formal training in what to do and when (or, alternatively, someone checking records upgraded and replaced by "newbies" and letting them know when mistakes have been made) would be nice.

Now that OCLC is starting its Expert Community Experiment, I think I might look into resources and training opportunities that would help me feel more confident about upgrading and replacing bibliographic records in OCLC. I'm currently signed up for one of the Expert Community Experiment information sessions, although I doubt I'll be a big contributor to the experiment.

OCLC Connexion metadata extractor and DSL's databases

OCLC Connexion's metadata extractor tool has some exciting possibilities - even though I'd need to heavily edit any MARC records it spits out, what it spits out is usually better than starting from scratch. I decided to try it out on a few things today. I still haven't really done much with it, but I've at least got a bit of a feel for how it works.

I've only tried it on one website so far (, with so-so results. I decided to try it out on a few of DSL's databases. In most cases, the extractor spits out similar results whether I use our redirect URLs or copy and paste the URL from the Address bar. I tried this out with JSTOR, Academic Search Complete, Project Muse, and a few others and got pretty much the same results with either URL. One exception was Global Road Warrior. The record created when I used the redirect URL was just awful - no title in the 245 field, and the 546 field (Language Note) says this is in Ukranian. If I copy and paste from my browser's Address bar, on the other hand, the record is much nicer. The 245 and 546 fields are much more accurate, and the rest of the record is better. That's not to say the record wouldn't need to be edited - it would still need lots of editing to truly be useful - but it's better than before.

Of course, if I were going to catalog the databases DSL subscribes to, I would first do a search for them in OCLC. While OCLC would probably not include records for websites, it does include records for databases. For instance, there's a record for JSTOR (OCLC #36027621) that, at a glance, looks good enough to consider using. This record definitely looks better and less likely to require major editing than the record the metadata extractor spits out.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

OCLC Connexion Client Interface

Today was the last day of the 3-day Amigos class I've been taking on the OCLC Connexion client interface. Some of the things I learned were very nifty (for me, anyway). For instance, I had no idea that the Connexion client has a tool that can extract metadata from a website or file and use it to create a basic MARC record (one in serious need of editing, but still). I think I might experiment with that tomorrow. Another nifty thing I learned about is constant data. I've been using constant data for a while now (dissertations would be even more time-consuming to catalog without the constant data template I've created), so it's not really something that's new to me, but the class did teach me some very important things about it.

For the next couple weeks or so, I'd like to do some experimentation and see how the OCLC Connexion client might fit in with my work. While I'd love to do all my cataloging directly in Connexion (spellcheck! record validation! constant data! smarter headings checker!), there are certain issues I'd have to resolve first, and some of those issues might not be resolvable at this time. However, I already do all of my original cataloging directly in Connexion, so the things I learned over the past three days would be useful for that.

Interesting books cataloged on Feb. 12th

Today I only cataloged one book that ended up on my TBR list:
  • Killing time : a novel of the future by Caleb Carr [PS3553 .A76277 K55 2000] - A suspenseful book set in the near future (2023) - no idea if Carr's writing is anything like J.D. Robb's, but J.D. Robb is the first author that popped into my head as I was reading this book's description.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Interesting books cataloged on Feb. 11th

  • Growing bonsai indoors edited by Pat Lucke Morris and Sigrun Wolff Saphire [SB433.5 .G76 2008] - Bonsai take a little too much patience and care for my tastes (not to mention I've got a black thumb), but I love how they look. This little book would be a fun read, even if I never actually put any of this information to use.
  • Children at play : an American history by Howard P. Chudacoff [HQ792 .U5 C46 2007] - Yes, this is an academic book, but it still looks interesting, and there are a few nice (black and white) photographs here and there.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Book - A Guide to a Course in Government Documents by Helen Q. Schroyer

I just finished the book (actually, short guide) A Guide to a Course in Government Documents by Helen Q. Schroyer [Z674.I52 no.135]. I'm not really as knowledgeable about government documents as I'd sometimes like to be. However, even I know that there are parts where this book, published in 1978, is out of date. Still, there were portions that I found to be very helpful. After doing a long-term government documents clean-up project at the previous library I worked at, I thought I had gained a little bit of an idea of how SuDoc numbers work, but this book made me realize that there was a lot that I hadn't even noticed. I think I probably would've gotten more out of this book if I'd had the time and willpower to actually try to do some of the assignments listed at the end of every section - trying these assignments out would've at least shown me more areas where this book is either out-of-date or still relevant. If, in the future, I'm asked to work with the Dick Smith Library's government documents, I may return to this book and try some of these assignments out, but for now I'm not really all that interested.

The next library science book I plan to tackle deals with the organization of information, so I'm looking forward to that. It seems much more theoretical than this one, so I guess I'll have to see how I deal with that. Eventually, I'd like to try something on FRBR, which is still a topic that confuses me more than I'd like.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hastings has manga!

Ok, so this probably isn't news to many people, but it's news to me. Before I moved here, I'd never been to a Hastings before - now, unless I manage to find my entertainment at Wal-Mart (I'm addicted to $5 movies...) or buy it online (I do this a lot - RightStuf and Amazon are my companies of choice), Hastings is my best bet. The last time I was at Hastings, which happened to be the second time I'd been there, my big discoveries were that Hastings sells used (and therefore cheap) stuff in addition to new and that Hastings has an ok selection of anime. I only wish that they sold more anime boxed sets - single DVDs are fine, but they can be a bit daunting when a series is 26, 52, or 100+ episodes long. I'd rather just bite the bullet and get a whole season or series all at once.

I went to Hastings again a few days ago - I remembered seeing the Invader Zim boxed set there when I first moved to Stephenville and wanted to see if it was still there (if it had ever been there at all, since I might've imagined it). I thought I remembered it costing $20-$30, which would've been a steal, since the series has now become very expensive. Well, if Hastings had it at one time, they no longer had it when I visited. I didn't go home empty handed, though. I spotted their graphic novel section and then hunted down their manga section - by the way, it's a little confusing to put the omnibus manga volumes in the graphic novel area when all the rest of the manga are somewhere else. Anyway, the manga selection isn't the best I've ever seen, but it's the best I've seen since I moved here. Plus, since Hastings sells used stuff, including used manga, the prices of some of the manga were the best I've ever seen anywhere. I was tempted to blow my entire luxuries budget for the month at one go, but I restrained myself and only bought a couple volumes. I figure a fair-sized chunk of my money will be going to Hastings from now on. Manga for less than $5 - happy dance!

The smell of a place

I just read this article about the mysterious maple syrup smell that has plagued New York for years - I hadn't actually realized that "maple syrup smell" was a problem in New York. Oh, the things I learn. I can only think of two places that have stamped their smells onto my brain - Greeley, CO and Chicago. When the wind is blowing just right (or even when it's not), Greeley smells like cows - I was only there for a few hours, but I was told that you eventually get used to the smell. I noticed Chicago's smells most when I walked past alleys - alleys were always a blast of heavy garbage smell. I walked by alleys often, hoping to spot a rat (I was working on a paper about Chicago's rodent control program) - all I ever got was the smell, though. That, and some really great pictures of the "Target: Rats" posters.

I've noticed that Stephenville has its own smells. Mainly, I notice the smell of horses. Sometimes the source is obvious - I'm walking home, suddenly smell horses, and look up to see to my shock (hey, I'm not used to this sort of thing) that someone has a horse trailer with an actual horse parked next to a house. Sometimes the source isn't so obvious - I was once walking home (I walk a lot) and spent a couple minutes looking around for the horses I was smelling, but I never saw them.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Adding to my list of books

Here's a list of some of the interesting-looking books I cataloged today:
  • God's mechanics : how scientists make scientists and engineers make sense of religion by Guy Consolmagno [BL240.3 .C68 2008]
  • The boy who was raised as a dog : and other stories from a child psychiatrist's notebook : what traumatized children can teach us about loss, love, and healing by Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz [RJ499.34 .P47 2006] - This one's pretty much guaranteed to make me cry, but the book jacket (and title) makes it seem like maybe all the kids in this book end up ok (or as ok as they can be, considering).

The war of the Jesus and Darwin fishes by John C. Caiazza [BL240.3 .C334 2007] has a great title, but it doesn't look quite as fun on the inside as it does on the outside, so it's not going on my TBR list - just on my mental "cool titles" list. There are some topics that interest me enough that I'd be willing to slog through something a little more academic (if I actually had time, that is, which usually isn't the case), but this book isn't on any of those topics. If it were about anthropology (especially linguistics) or library science, there'd be a much better chance I'd give it a try.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mogwai's pretty song

I've had the song "Friends of the Night" by Mogwai stuck in my head since yesterday. I really need to see if I can find a relatively inexpensive copy of the CD it's on and play it a few hundred times, so that I can kill my addiction to it. I wonder if the other songs on the CD are as lovely as this one?

I looked at a few reviews people had written for the CD, and the least helpful one by far went something like, "If you like this kind of music, you'll love this CD by Mogwai," which is similar to saying, "If you like this kind of chocolate, you'll love this bar of Hershey's," only even less helpful, because I'm still not sure what kind of music Mogwai plays.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cataloging indulgence

None of the ordered stuff that I cataloged today was what I would call "fun stuff" in any way - not even academic stuff I might read to broaden my horizons (I'm not sure anyone would read the stuff I cataloged today for fun, but you never know). With that in mind, since I needed to catalog a few gift books anyway, I indulged myself a little and cataloged some popular fiction:
  • Maximum Ride: School's Out--Forever by James Patterson [PZ7 .P27653 SCH 2006 - Curriculum Collection] - I've wanted to read the Maximum Ride books for a while now, but, since this is book 2, it'll probably be a while before I see about checking this out. If anybody's read book 1 and wants to try out book 2, you no longer have to get it through ILL - yay!
  • The Scorpio Illusion by Robert Ludlum [PS3562 .U26 S35 1993] - Not something I see myself ever checking out, but I'm sure there are Ludlum fans somewhere in Stephenville who'd appreciate this. On a more depressing note, Ludlum was not yet dead in our authority files before I cataloged this book. The authority record for Robert Ludlum has now been updated, and that is no longer the case. I always feel a little morbid when I add death dates to authority records...

When I need a mental rest, popular fiction is one of my favorite things to catalog, because it's usually really easy - often, 1000 libraries or more have already "touched" the record, so there's not much for me to edit.

A quote to catalog (and live?) by

Recently someone posted this quote on the AUTOCAT listserv:

"Impara le regole cosi potrai romperle correttamente."
[Translation: Learn the rules so you will be able to break them correctly.]

I like it, because it fits well with what I do - I'm sure lots of folks could say the same.