BEDA Wrap-up

My final BEDA. I have to say I’m glad it’s over. I like the exercise of writing every day but I do not like the idea of having to PUBLISH these daily scribbles for the world to see. My writing this month has been crap. I’m not capable of being ‘on’ all of the time. I’m sure you can flip through posts and tell when I am writing passionately about a topic. I write better. It’s interesting. If I’m not interested in what I’m writing, there is no way in hell anyone else will be.

From a content standpoint, BEDA was a fail. Meh. However, I’ve gotten very good at banging out posts. It doesn’t take me nearly as long as it did before- it takes me about half of the time it used to take. The increased expediency in blogging has probably been the biggest gain for me. On the other hand, I know that this rush to get something- ANYTHING- blogged before midnight has bombed the quality of writing. I guess there’s a give and take there.

Another positive (or negative, if looked at another way) result from BEDA is that I’m reevaluating the focus of Puddles. Am I writing for me? My family? Friends? Colleagues? Complete strangers? I previously pondered whether or not I needed a professional blog for all of my library-related ramblings. On the other hand, a dedicated library blog probably won’t be updated as often. Besides, taking on a professional blog means providing content that is useful. Most of the time, I’m merely blathering on about a problem or something that’s bugging me. My library-focused posts are rarely researched in depth. Some aren’t even thought through very well- they may be rants. I think if I had the added pressure, I would end up avoiding posting to a Library blog altogether.

At any rate, I’m thankful for the BEDA experience. Writing a little everyday is something to strive for but I certainly won’t be publishing EVERYTHING, like I had to for BEDA. I also learned that yes, I can take 45 minutes out of every day to write.  It’s not impossible like I previously thought. It just took a kick in the ass. Thanks Maureen!

In which She Tries to be Smarter

I started a post this morning on the bus but my WordPress app ate it. Trying again. I will be back-dating this post for yesterday’s missed BEDA and then I will post my final BEDA tonight.

Wednesday was a hump day in more ways than one. I’ve been emotionally drained lately. I’ve been pulled in different directions by people I am very close to- and not in a major way. Just little things, here and there, all adding up. I had the opportunity to talk it out some yesterday and afterward I felt much better. However, I foresee this happening again so, here is my plan for avoiding this in the future.

Yes, I am not happy unless the people I care about are happy and are getting along together. Yes, it is unrealistic to think that everyone I care about will all be best friends and won’t ever compete for my time or attention. Yes, I need to know what I want and, sometimes, I need to put that first instead of trying to make everyone else happy. Yes, people cannot read my mind. Yes, I need to be open and honest with everyone. No, I’m not going to be bitchy about it. And no, I don’t expect everyone to take this honesty well all of the time. Sometimes you have to disappoint people.

I have no control over other people’s expectations of me. Some expectations may be explicit to others but completely unknown to me. Some expecatations I didn’t sign up for at all. I guess I need to anticapte this better somehow, to make sure these expectations are realistic. Communication is probably the only way to do this.

Posts that Might Have Been

I didn’t leave enough time to blog today. I was busy dancing among TEI elements and figuring out how the XML editor, <oXygen />, works. Also: eating strawberries, cataloging one or two books, learning about dinosaurs (via cataloging) and doing more research on bird watching iPhone apps.

Things you may have been lucky enough to read, had I made time for it:

  • Parenthood, culture and the media, specifically, not being a parent, since that is the only side of the spectrum I understand (inspired by Qnarf and Star’s recent posts).
  • MORE about my new job including, but not limited to: furniture scrounging in dark corners of the library, window real estate, and the spurning of all things print and print-centered paraphernalia: pencil sharpeners, bookshelves and filing cabinets.
  • How I desperately hope my new plants hang in there!
  • Plans for writing.
  • Plans for reading.
  • Plans for eating.
  • Plans for movie watching tonight (or lack thereof!)
  • How the YouTube video I wanted to include for last week’s interlude was taken down by CartoonNetwork (Henchmen 21 & 24 going active again to the tune of Holst’s “Mars” in Venture Brothers)

Maybe I’ll actually get around to blogging about one of these items before April is out. Today, is blog fail but you’re over it.

On Readability

I made a note to self on yesterday’s blog because I KNEW I was going to forget to blog this- AGAIN. So, my rant on readability!

I read almost all of my news via RSS. I enjoy reading news this way not just because it’s is convenient but because I can read content without struggling with obnoxious ads, small font, and three to four different columns of information jumping out of the screen at me. Even websites that I find to be tolerable, such as NPR and BBC News, have a lot of content to sift through. I prefer multiple columns when I’m browsing around for something to read but when I’m focusing on a specific article, I don’t want flashing ads and extraneous content to distract me.

A few months ago I learned about Readability, developed by arc90. Go to this website, configure how you’d like to read content and then drag the box that says ‘Readability’ to your browser’s bookmark toolbar. Then whenever you’re browsing the web and come across something you’d rather not strain your eyes to read, you can click on the Readability link you’ve saved in your bookmarks toolbar. Doing so gives you a text-only version of the web page you are viewing, formatted the way you want. The Readability folks have added reload (to restore the web page to it’s original display), print and email buttons to the left for a bit more functionality. I use this quite often when I’m browsing the web these days.

I recommend all of you sighted folks giving it a try, especially if you find yourself doing a lot of reading online. Reduce eye strain! Limit headaches! Watch it do your laundry!

Well, OK, that last bit was a lie. Still waiting for the laundry iPhone app.

Speaking of iPhone apps, I did a quick check for birdwatching and/or bird call apps and there are TONS. I will have to research this more. In the meantime, I may install a few free ones to get me started.

Off to enjoy SUN and NATURE and good company.

The Weekend, an Account

A negative side effect of Blog Every Day in April: I’m constantly reminded of how dull I am. And now the rest of the world knows it too. Fail.

Well, for those still following along at home, here are some highlights from my weekend.

  • The style sheets for the Starrynight Productions website were magically fixed. OK, so magic had NOTHING to do with it. Tim FTW! Turns out he could track changes made and did them for me.  Whew! I still have a few things I’d like to check on but they can wait until tomorrow.
  • I did some needed shoe shopping and picked up a few more things on clearance.  I should be set for awhile, at least until I need to find another pair of jeans in the fall. Hate clothes shopping. Why can’t I spend all of my money on plants and books and road trips?
  • Speaking of books, as much as it pained me, I put aside Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the moment. I realized that I probably won’t be able to renew at least one of the books in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series (and probably the last, since it came out relatively recently), so I thought it best to get those read. Book 1, City of Bones, is good so far. It’s keeping my interest.
  • I made Russell my super-easy, extra-yummy Rice Krispie treats tonight. Why are they so yummy? ‘Cause I put peanut butter and chocolate in ‘em. Mom reminds me that she got this recipe from my first grade teacher, Mrs. Naples-Kuhn (I hope I’m spelling that right). Here it is:

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treats3 tbsp butter/margarine
4 cups mini marshmallows
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup chocolate chips
6 cups of Rice Krispies® cereal

Spray dutch oven (or some other largish pot) with cooking spray.
Melt butter and marshmallows over low heat.
Add peanut butter and chocolate, stirring thoroughly.
Mix in rice crispies.
Remove from heat.
Press into cookie sheet or other container.

I halved this recipe tonight and it fit nicely into a 6x6x2 container.

Well, that’s it for me.

Things to do tomorrow:

  1. Look up birding iPhone app
  2. Blog about (or at least mention) readability
  3. TEI, TEI, TEI
  4. Pick up quarters for laundry
  5. Walk with Tim

Stop and Smell the Flowers

If the announcement that I will be starting a new position didn’t tip you off, you might be able to deduce as much from my sudden rash of library-related posts. Over the last two weeks, my brain has been switched into overdrive. This is all well and good but I’m beginning to think that maybe these library-related posts belong somewhere else. I am really, REALLY hesitant to ask Tim to do yet ANOTHER WP install. I know that he says it’s easy but I am aware that I’m eating up resources. On the other hand, I’m afraid that I’m boring people with shop talk. Puddles was always meant to be a personal blog. I’ll think on this a bit more. In the meantime, even though I have tons of libraries thoughts at this very moment, I’m holding off and providing you, dear reader, with something truer to Puddles posts of past (hows THAT for alliteration).

First, the weather was AMAZING today. So beautiful. I decided that the hibiscus I recently bought could tolerate the 15 minute walk to the bus so I schlepped it into work. The hibiscus is currently in a 6″ pot and is quite bushy. The roots may be a bit compacted though, as the plant looks like it is pushing itself out of the pot a little. I have a 10″ (maybe 12″?) pot to transfer it to. In addition, I bought a pair of still-small bougainvillea on Monday at May’s Greenhouse. Tim was very nice to humor me for this excursion. For a moment, I could see that he was very tempted to walk out of there with a $100+ bonsai : ). I will have to snap some pictures. Both plants are blooming (the hibiscus is red, the bougainvillea is orange) and I *think* the artificial light at my desk will suit them. If not, I’m fairly certain they will like my new south-facing window desk, which I’ll probably move into next week.

In other news, Russell just started rehearsals on Duck Soup for the Merry MAC Players of Martinsville. I often blame Russell for evening distractions that prevent me from getting things done. Even though it’s really not his fault. Well, now I don’t have that excuse. I should look at budgeting my evenings better.

E-books, Where are You Taking Us?

At the last Technical Services Department meeting, I heard Executive Associate Dean Carolyn Walters talk about (among other things) the future of libraries and cataloging. She mentioned e-books and how this format may change the publishing industry. Since then, I’ve seen a thread on the AUTOCAT listserv on how to catalog a Kindle- the actual device- so that it may be checked out by patrons for use. I also remember reading about a Northwest Missouri State University pilot project that distributed e-textbooks to students. What does this all mean for libraries and cataloging?

Well, as this article points out, some speculate that there may be a return to serialized novels, in which one chapter is released (and sold) at a time, a la Dickens and Hardy. Does this affect how we catalogers do our work? Maybe not. I can’t see tracking a monograph as a serial [shudder], but if publishers release an important must-have title by chapter, how do we string those chapters together in our catalog? Should we establish series-like headings in 8xx a field? Do we create one title-level record and tack one link for every new chapter (856 40s) and update the 505 contents field to reflect unique chapter titles, authors, etc. if any?

At IU, we don’t have a e-textbook pilot program. We aren’t handing out Kindles or Sony Readers. Our users are interacting with e-books in vendor or publisher platforms. In cataloging e-books, I’ve come across a number of these platforms. Some are user friendly. I like Gale and Wiley. But some are… not so much. I loathe NetLibrary for it’s crappy metadata and it’s clunky interface. Thank goodness IU changed our policy regarding this last vendor (the vendor records are horrible too). Most interfaces are generic and simple to use but maybe a casual user wouldn’t think so. I sometimes wish IU had a universal e-book interface of its own, you know, in my ‘keep dreaming’ moments.

I wonder how else e-books might change the industry. I hope libraries can keep up.