I wasn't in trouble. Basically the whole story got twisted around in Boston, and came back to me that the assistant director called... when it was really me that called. Does this mean I got a promotion?

Today I have to bring the new computer that is tempermental about starting to the computer shop. I think it's a bad power supply. It's a cheapo brand 300 watt powering a cd rom and an A drive. I should probably get the vital stats on those machines. I think it's running at least a P3, quite possibly a P4 chip. At any rate, it starts every fifth time you press the button.

Paying it forward on the web.

Warning: This is one of those "everybody should be just like me" entries…
Seems like everyone is saying the end of the free web is coming, thanks to low click
through rates and increasing costs.
I like the idea that the web is for sharing and part of how I choose to pay for reading sites is by clicking on an ad. Slashdot and fark get several a day from me, while I've sent matt a couple bucks to keep mefi going. I try and support the sites I really like and use all the time.

Am I in trouble?

First off, yes, I am neurotic.

So last night, none of our catalogers could catalog, thanks to some network problems with Boston. Try getting someone in Boston at 4:59 pm. I managed to get a human being (not an answering machine) at about 5:03. Of course, he's not really the "fix the cataloging" problems guy, but he was a human being who could physically find another human being who could help fix the problem.

He was suitably apalled that we couldn't save records, so he went off in search of someone that could help me. Then I was told by the other librarians to get home, because I was making them look bad working overtime.

I probably should have stuck around, maybe, just a little... See where my neurosis comes in? I've been there a little under a month. Man, I am hard on myself. Anyway, this morning, I check my email (see where my neurosis comes in yet again?) and there is a message from the assistant director saying that he got someone in Boston and explained the problem and had it fixed.

Perhaps I should whip out the big guns before I go through the "proper channels" next time. Because the proper channels said, "I'm going home. Email me in the morning." Then, I didn't know how widespread the problem was. Reading between the lines (a key neurotic symptom) certainly makes it seem as though there were other issues going on I didn't know about. I need to implement some sort of reporting system.

The problem is, the support staff doesn't come to me a lot of the time when there is a problem. The other librarians, fortunately, do. Sometimes, if it's a problem with a particular record, I tell them to wait it out. But that certainly isn't the case every time. I don't know what would motivate them, though, to come tell me consistently. I would have a log book, but I don't think anyone would actually use it. Besides, people think it's something they did when the SQL error comes up, not something that the system did.

I also have to get better at being pushy. Like, there is a problem with Horizon today, fix it.

Never been a real supervisor before. I mean, I've supervised people, but never to this extent. Still wrestling with my promotion from peon to, um, less of a peon.

Who's Your Governor?

Upon reading about the Florida state library and its proposed exile by Governor Jeb Bush, I've concluded that there are a lot of strange governors out there. How did they get elected? Well, we sort of know how Gov. Schwartzenegger got elected (at least it hasn't left our collective memories as yet)... Same goes for my governor, George Pataki, former mayor of Poughkeepsie did HE make it to the Governors mansion? Who's your governor, and how's he/she doing? Please add your comments...especially you Connecticut residents.

rebel technology

The fates were conspiring against me today. First, my supervisor and trainer called in, so I got to do the schedule in her place. It wouldn't have been a problem, except that there was no Monday schedule from last week to base it on. It was time to get creative. The trickiest thing was making sure everyone got lunch.

Fortunately, the info desk was very quiet from nine to ten, when I was the only librarian in the building.

Then I got a sales pitch from a vendor that shall remain nameless. I requested it, but I sort of had like twelve thousand other things going on, and just wanted very basic information. I hope I wasn't too rude.

I realized our Mac security software works poorly with IE. I ended up installing Netscape. I played some games though. First I left the icon for AIM up on the screen, and when you (try to) sign in, nothing happens. I centered the sign that says "No Instant Messaging" right above it. Tech librarian humor.

I also uninstalled Flash and Real Player. I'll be damned if someone is looking at movies at our ten minute Internet email terminal!

It made me smile... Someone tried to install Flash within twenty minutes of my putting it out there. But they couldn't download or execute it. Mwahahahahahahaha!

I also met with incredibly gross man today. First he was complaining because copies were $.15. Then he was upset because all our books on a certain trade exam were missing. But I showed him where the given trade books were anyway. And boy, could this guy burp. He illustrated his talents often... At the info desk, in the reading room, down the stairs, in the stacks. We're not talking little, "Oh, excuse me" burps, we're talking break the sound barrier, I just drank a whole keg of carbonated beer sort of burp.

At 4:58 (these things always happen between 4:55-4:59), Horizon started doing flips in Boston. None of our catalogers could catalog. So at 5:15 I was putting in a few extra minutes to give Boston a call. I think everyone went home.

Then I meant to send an email to the assistant director, and everyone got a copy. Whoops. Best be fixing my address book. At least there wasn't anything I'd say to my assistant director that I wouldn't say to any of the librarians.

"Poor" candidates

What is it about growing up in poverty/depravation that appeals to the American voter? Those of the Dems who can attest to being from modest beginnings are screaming it from the rooftops. Ok, so Dean and Kerry are affluent. Their parents were educated. They were privileged as children...they were probably read to each night at bedtime! Why apologize? I can't imagine any other country on earth where candidates for the highest office would be ashamed to have sprung from comfortable beginnings. What is it about modest means that appeals to us Yanks?

long term projects

I have a couple of long term projects. One I think is sort of funny... wireless for the library. Why is this funny? Well, half the people that come in the library to use the computers have no idea how to use them. How would they benefit from wireless? And people with laptops... they might like wireless internet, but still insist on plugging in their laptop's power cord, which is against policy.

The second long term project is time access management software.

I had a request to disable the "log off" function on the public access terminals. This leads to the, er, obvious problems. We do need to be able to log off. And we do need to be able to shutdown (and I'd rather have a librarian logging in every half hour than a patron turning the computers on and off, and still needing a librarian to log in anyway). I could enable ctrl-alt-delete on those boxes again, but I don't want every schmuch ctrl-alt-deleting when our network is slow.

The network, my nemesis. I still don't understand, exactly, how the network at the library works. We're networked to a T1 line. Evidently we are behind a firewall that Boston uses. Windows is our responsibility. But I'm thinking we must have a server machine somewhere, although my predecessor says we don't. So where is our filtering software? Also in Boston, because it has to operate in front of the firewall. I think I need to talk to someone and get the low down on exactly how this whole thing knits together, before I start even pondering too deeply the ramifications, good and bad, of time managment software.

We simply can't afford a kiosk or another computer to manage internet reservations, and even if I could somehow rig the print server to act as as server for this as well (I'm not entirely convinced I can't), I don't relish the idea of having the librarians and support staff have to log on to the server to make appointments. The key here is to save time. And a self-service station requires more hardware. If any new hardware comes in, well, it's going to the staff. Or the unfiltered terminal, which is pre-1997.

Client only should work, even though it won't entirely eliminate our handy dandy sign up sheet entirely. Try finding variety in client only systems. And I would like it to work with Horizon, without having to be tweaked in Boston. And I would like it to work on Macs. Tall order. If you know of anything, please, please drop me a line.

My wish list for wireless? Yeah. Well, I'll get to that, when I'm entirely convinced it's a good idea. The assistant director suggested it, and I'm not sure he's entirely convinced it's a good idea either. I would rather be a late adopter and get it right, at least on this, methinks.

My first weekend off the ref desk

Ohmigawd! Ever since I was hired part-time as reference support staff in 1995, I have worked a Tuesday-Saturday schedule. This is my inaugural weekend as a M-F person. Of course, I'll be on a weekend rotation (every 3rd Saturday, every 6th weekend), but this is my first Friday to be home, chill out and know that I don't have to be up at any time I don't want to be up Saturday morning.

Fist fights @ your library!

I was on information alone for the first time today. That's when everyone and their brother decided to come in. I had people dropping off posters and books and mail. I had people wanting new cards. I had people crashing the Macs (they like to freeze up and nothing but a hard reset will fix them), I had people with issues about their local post man (like I can help that), but the best of them all was the near-fist-fight.

It was young patron versus older patron. I don't know who was more trouble. It was over... what else... the internet. The older patron didn't want to sign up for the next slot because she didn't want to sign up for a computer that might not come available. I told her that was the policy. She told me she wasn't a moron. Of course, it would be easy enough to cross one's name off the high tech paper and golf pencil sign up sheet we have.

The young patron called her something less than polite, and she came to tell me. I got the young patron (who'd already been there an hour and half) off the computer, explaining that she'd been there over the amount of time we allow and others were waiting. She was fine with me, though knowing human nature, she might have been less than polite with the other lady.

Then it started. They started going at each other... First comments about manners, and civilization, and etiquette. I was waiting for them to whoosh out the boxing gloves. I stood there, like an idiot, just looking at them. My first thought was... we're getting this excited over Hotmail and Internet Explorer? So I stood there, unable to say anything, between the two of them. Believe me, I wanted to say something. But I couldn't think of anything that would sound professional. So I just let them glare at each other, and left when I was reasonably sure no one would get hurt.

Two patrons today (and lots of staff) mentioned time access/management software. I think it would help. People would be cheesed because they'd have to use a card for the internet, but hey. It is a library.

The unfiltered terminal's keyboard died this morning. No biggie, right? Yeah, it's one of those archiac pre-ps/2 keyboards. Believe it or not, I went in the computer cemetery and found one with the right adaptor that worked. I had to clean it off. I didn't want anyone to catch anything from the keyboard.

A well deserved weekend. Yay. I will spend it researching software and... the Toyota Prius!

And no powerpoint!

The whole thing was worth it, last night, when our director did her Howard Dean impression. What a scream.

So I wonder how many upper eschelons will have fundraiser hang over. No, no one was drinking, but I left at nine, when my coach turned into a pumpkin, and it was still going strong.

I got to explain the new print station yesterday, which was a might bit surprising for me. I came in, and suddenly I was giving a staff presentation.

Last Quotes from New Seeds of Contemplation

Off and on, I have been sharing selections from Thomas Merton's "New Seeds of Contemplation." I finished reading the book several weeks ago and continue to recommend it highly. I'm closing with a selection on peace and one about hate that I thought were especially valuable today, though they were written back in 1961. The years 1961 and 1962 brought threats to America's existance that make 9/11/2001 pale into insignificance.

From Chapter 16, "The Root of War is Fear"

"When I pray for peace I pray God to pacify not only the Russians and the Chinese but above all my own nation and myself. When I pray for peace I pray to be protected not only from the Reds but also from the folly and blindness of my own country. When I pray for peace, I pray not only the enemies of my country may cease to want war, but above all that my own country will cease to do the things that make war inevitable. In other words, when I pray for peace I am not just praying that the Russians will give up without a struggle and let us have our own way. I am praying that both we and the Russians may somehow be restored to sanity and learn how to work out our problems, as best we can, together, instead of preparing for global suicide."

From Chapter 24, "He who is not with Me is against Me."

"Do not be too quick to assume your enemy is a savage just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy because he thinks you are a savage. Or perhaps he is afraid of you because he feels that you are afraid of him. And perhaps if he believed you were capable of loving him he would no longer be your enemy.

Do not be too quick to assume that your enemy is an enemy of God just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy precisely because he can find nothing in you that gives glory to God. Perhaps he fears you because he can find nothing in you of God's love and God's kindness and God's patience and mercy and understanding of the weaknesses of men.

Do not be too quick to condemn the man who no longer believes in God, for it is perhaps your own coldness and avarice, your mediocrity and materialism, your sensuality and selfishness that have killed his faith."

This last section flows nicely into the book I'll start discussing on and off in the next few weeks -- Prisoners of Hate: The Congnitive basis of Anger, Hostility and Violence by Aaron Beck. A book with a Grand Unified Theory of Hate that explains barroom brawls, domestic violence, and the endless war in Chechnya with a single principle.

Take care until next time,

Special collections dreaming

So last night I dreamt about local history. Our local history department is located in the old building, and is ruled with an iron fist, and rightly so. There is some old stuff there, not the least of which is the refinished furniture.

The road to the library is paved with good intentions

I love the public. Really.

I made change for this guy out of my own pocket because he was having a real hard time figuring out what "Dollars full, please insert coins" meant. I was sort of on my way to do something else, so I had to help him out quickly.

I did learn it's easy to hide in the young adult room if you sit at the librarian's desk and move her ALA "Read" poster stand in front of the computer.

This is truly the toughest website to use

I'm happy. I just got an email from a LISNewster who called LISNews "truly the toughest website to use." Why am I happy about that? Because this person points out what's wrong with the code, pages that are broke, are hard to use, and links that are missing.

My geek tool belt

I got my husband a geek tool for Christmas, and it's somehow found it's way into my messenger bag. It's a Swiss Army Knife with screwdriver bits... Torx, and other heads... The little square head and stuff. I don't know what they're all called. The custodian saw me taking apart the mac with it and was quite jealous.

Would MLK be treated as a terrorist today?

I saw this new article on via Alternet:

Martin Luther King: Terrorist?
Full article at

This article should be read in the light of the definition of "Domestic Terrorism," contained in 18 USC 2331 -

" (5) the term ``domestic terrorism'' means activities that--
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended--
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

A few choice quotes from the article:

"He would be decried, by powerful figures inside and outside government, as at worst a domestic terrorist, at best a publicity seeking menace whose criticisms of America gave comfort to our unseen enemies.


The powerful black religious networks that produced King and so many other courageous civil rights leaders would be attacked by federal prosecutors as providing financial support for terrorism. Church groups' tax exemptions would be lifted; records would be seized. Charges would be brought, perhaps under federal RICO statutes or Patriot Act provisions. The FBI harassment that hounded King throughout his career would today be fiercer, and subject to no judicial oversight.

I should say that
Alternet and
WorkingForChange are not much more "Fair and Balanced" in outlook than Fox News is. However, they state their biases up front, which Fox does not.

Are there any legal types out there willing to offer an interpretation of 18 USC 2331 (5), specificaly if all three points mentioned:

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by
intimidation or coercion; or
iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping;

must be fulfilled to be terrorism or whether only ONE of the three conditions needs to be met. If the latter, then it seems like the plain purpose of the Civil Rights marches was to "coerce" the American government and broader society to grant broader rights to blacks. Hence King would have been guilty of fomenting "Domestic Terrorism," as would Gandhi if a similar law existed in India.

Then again, I suppose any teenagers went on the marches without the permission of their parents, then the government could have added "kidnapping" charges as well -- thus fulifilling the full criteria for Domestic Terrorism.

Thanks for listening. Merton really is coming soon -- probably Thursday. - Daniel

Here it is...

Here is my first entry by way of a test message.

Score so far for this journal = boring but perhaps I will think of something useful to post soon.


Wuthering Heights

Nearly every copy of Wuthering Heights in a twenty mile radius of Boston was checked out (or lost) last Saturday. There was one left at Chelsea.

A young lady (not the Wuthering Heights type, I might add) came in looking for it, frantically. I was wondering what brought on this need for classic literature. We checked our library, Everett, Medford, Melrose, and finally discovered Chelsea's. But Chelsea closed at five. It was four fifty.

I told her I could put in a reserve, but she told me it was useless after Monday. Someone's flunking a test today, methinks.

Countryside Journal - Good Read / Practical Advice

I'm writing this entry especially for urban librarians and librarians who live at the edge of rural areas.

Try checking out Countryside Magazine. It is a print publication whose web site contains selected articles from issues going back to 1998. It is an extremely plain spoken magazine catering to the needs of homesteaders and people wanting to make a break for the country.

Some recent articles have included:

Practical Solar Power

Top Journals For January

Top 20 journals, with # of page views, according to Urchin, for the month, so far.


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