Saturday, January 31, 2009

Daily Thoughts

The Erythraean Sibyl Michelangelo 16th Century

Daily Thoughts

Another book came in for me today, The Last Wish by Andrew Sapkowski. It is a game based on a video game, The Witcher. This is the second book I am reading based on a video game, the other is Halo, The Cole Protocol by Tobias Buckell. Both of these are standalone titles, not parts of longer series. I am not a huge fan of serial game novels.

A lot of people like them, there is Warhammer 40,000, Forgotten Realms, and many other series. In fact, when I go to my local library, I find most of the paperbacks in the science fiction and fantasy section to be fantasy series based on games. Serials can be fun occassionally, but I often think an excessive focus on series saps creativity. I much prefer to read original series or novels.

In science fiction, there are the Star Wars paperbacks and Star Trek paperbacks. I like the new Romulan Empire novels and the Klingon Empire novels which have been coming out recently. They are a little bit different than the stories of the federation which I find rather bland. I even like a few of the authors. Peter David is my favorite of the novelists who wrote for star trek. I like the Timothy Zahn books in the Star Wars series. My favorite Star Wars novel was Splinter of the Minds Eye by Alan Dean Foster. Still, I like original novels better.

I shifted some New York Law annuals downstairs. They are government documents. In order to discard books if you are depository library, you have to prepare a list of the items you are discarding and send it to the government to get permission to discard the items. Sometimes, they don't give permission. We are a partial government depository. I also discarded some law books.

We have had to buy a computer database Westlaw Patron Access Terminal recently to replace our cd-rom databases. Like most libraries with a law collection we have a very large amount of books. This is because law is based on precedent, everything that has come before it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Daily Thoughts

Felix Henry Giacomotti Inappropriate Reading Time Oil on canvas, 1886

Daily Thoughts

I interviewed for a Librarian III Collection Development position this morning at my job. I was not expecting it. I got the call for my resume last night. I spent about three hours going over the pieces of my resume last night. I was not completely prepared for the interview. I think I flubbed a few things, but you don't know until later what really happened. The interview lasted a little over an hour. It was very interesting.

Something I realize coming out from the interview is that I should not ignore the questions posed to me in the interview. I am going to start weeding the law collection tomorrow. I have been putting it off for a while. I dread the idea in a way. But, unless I do it, I will probably not get where I want to go. I am also going to arrange a day to go to the county supreme court law library this month as well. I need to act on some of the things which I discussed.

Two more books came in for me to read today, Mirrored Heavens by David J. Williams. This is the authors first book. The second book is Halo, The Cole Protocol by Tobias Buckell. Tobias Buckell is a very enjoyable author to read. He is a caribbean writer which adds some nice flavor and tone to the book. I liked his other books Ragamuffin, Crystal Rain, and Sly Mongoose.

I am still reading Building Hope by John Bateson. I like some of his ideas, the acronym SMART (Specific, Memorable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound) for setting goals appleals to me. It is the kind of thing that makes you think hard about what you are doing.

There is a new feed site for library feeds and podcasts ,

One the subway home, I read a bit more of Building Hope. This is a nice quote which I found while reading the book. It is a Chinese proverb. "If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else." I rather like the idea. Maybe, I feel it is because I have devoted my life to helping other people through literature.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daily Thoughts

Paul Alexis Reading a Manuscript to Zola. Paul Cezanne.

Daily Thoughts

Right now, I am reading I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna as well as Building Hope. I Can Make You Thin is a behavior management program for eating. It admonishes you to eat what you want, stop eating when you are full, eat when you are hungry, and eat slowly. There are sections on how to make exercise fun as well as how to identify eating when you are angry, stressed or frustrated. I am about halfway through the book. It includes a hypnosis tape which runs for about half an hour. I have not played it yet. The book is not complicated and it is not like most diet books.

I finished reading the book in about two and half hours. There is also a hypnosis cd which has a guided relaxation and positive reinforcement session that runs for about half an hour. I found it quite relaxing.

In addition to the hypnosis tapes there are short meditative exercises focused on changing your body image, preventing cravings, and picturing yourself differently. My favorite example is an exercise with a mirror which asks to look at how you would look if you were in excellent physical shape.

This is not a diet book, it is a behavior modification book focused on food. It asks you to change specific behaviors and gives you meditative exercises on how to do this. I have to say reading this was quite different than what I expected. I don't know if it will work until a later date.

I found this book on Twitter, Sterling Publishers was advertising it on Twitters as part of a book marketing campaign. The book is in british english which makes it read a bit differently than many books which I have read. It does have a slightly new age feeling to it because of the meditation exercises, but it is not overbearing.

This was a nice short break from Building Hope. We have hundreds of diet books at the library. People are asking for The Zone, Pritikin, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, the American Heart Association diet, and many different diets. There are not just popular diets, there are also diets for specific conditions; heart disease, kidney problems, cancer, diabetes, celiac disease and many other conditions.

The diet books have even spun off into the cookbooks section. Now, you can get your American Heart Association diet book, get your American Heart Association cookbook, and get your American Heart Association exercise book in one step. Diet books are no longer diet books, they are a package of different books. Maybe, after you get your books, you can go to a meeting to discuss the three books at your local American Heart Association chapter. I am using American Heart Association because it is reputable much like the American Diabetes Association. I have trouble believing the commercial companies like Jenny Craig or Weightwatchers.

It is very hard to make sense out of the proliferation of these books. You wonder every time someone gets a diet book whether or not they will actually help. I sometimes am a little cynical about these kind of books.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Daily Thoughts

Hans Christian Andersen in his living room at his home in Nyhavn 18 in Copenhagen.

Daily Thoughts.

The BookCalendar is reviewing Rabbit Angstrom in memory of John Updike. It is sad to see this writer. While, I was not particularly fond of his works. I was fond of what he represented.

I am still reading Building Hope by John Bateson. It is a very serious book and a very slow read because he is trying to add depth and say very meaningful things. This could take me a while to read. There is quite a bit on hiring people both for board positions as well as staff positions.

I have another book which I am plainning on reading. I found the book on Twitter. It is called I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna. I am still watching my diet and doing yoga every single night.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Daily Thoughts

L'Arlésienne (Porträt der Mme Ginoux) Vincent Van Gogh Oil on Canvas 1888

Daily Thoughts

The new director for the system came and visited our library. We sat in the staff room and introduced ourselves and said what each of our departments did. It was fairly pleasant. There were coffee, bagels, and muffins. He walked around and did a tour of the building. Then he went off and had lunch with the director of our library. I wonder what they were talking about.

I can see some changes coming fairly quickly to our library very soon. The city is proposing a survey of people want from their local government. We have not had an official survey of library patron's needs since I came here. I look forward to seeing what people want.

Tomorrow is the monthly board meeting. I usually take the reference desk during the board meetings so I can't really attend the meeting. I see the various board members leave as the meeting ends. I think this should be an interesting meeting. There are supposed to be several people from the community who will be there today. I often talk to one of them at the library about which computer books he likes. I think one of them may be asking for a board position.

I'll wait until after tomorrow to see what happens.

We are currently in union negotiations, something which can be very touchy. I am not going to say anything positive or negative. We have not had a contract for a number of years. I wish they could hash things out between union and management. It can be quite difficult at times in both directions. Because I am a line employee, I am a member of the union, CSEA which I support. Union membership is important.

A round of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace workshops were held in the library. I heard that they went over The Code of Conduct during the training for the library. The trainer said hello to me. She remembered me well.

On the way home from work, I read some more of Building Hope Leadership in the Nonprofit World by John Bateson. It is quite enlightening. I really don't understand that much about how boards work, this has given me a little bit more of an idea of how these things work. I am not sure that I get the idea of volunteering to be on a nonprofit board that much. This probably open doors to opportunities for many people.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891) The Reader in White

Miscellaneous Thoughts

I am enjoying reading Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire. I am finding it unique and refreshing. It is a retelling of the Snow White story. I read some more of it on the train to work this morning. I also read it for a bit on the way home from work. It is a very strange book with a unique style. I have not seen anyone else write the way he does. I really cannot compare it to any other writer I can think of. If you want something very different read this book. I am foregoing review this book because it is very hard to grasp and describe in any simple terms.

I put a few more books in the current events display. I also put in an order for books on electronics. Right now, I am also looking through the Job Information Center for outdated material to replace. I already have about twenty titles that need to be updated.

I might go to the Open Access and Libraries Conference on March 17, 2009 if I can get a pass for it. The lecture on Google Books last year was very interesting, also the part on public domain ebooks was quite interesting as well. As you can imagine, copyright was an important part of the discussion.

I spent most of the afternoon at city hall. The new assistant director of human resources was giving two presentations to city employees: a presentation on sexual harassment, and a presentation on workplace violence. Each ran for an hour long. About half of the time was spent watching a video and filling out a multiple choice questionnaire. I sent a link to our code of conduct on our website to the assistant director. I found the presentation to be fairly well put together and not at all boring which was a surprise.

On the way to the lecture I dropped off several fliers of different events at the library as well as the new service brochure and calendar of events. I am hoping it will bring in a couple of people to our events. A few of the employees asked about the AARP classes for defense driving being given at the library once a month. The price of $14 was much cheaper than most insurance classes for defensive driving.

When I got back, I did a bit more placing inserts into the law books, and pulled some books to be put in storage.

I also picked up two books on nonprofit management, How To Manage An Effective Nonprofit Organization From Writing and Managing Grants to Fundraising, Board Development, and Strategic Planning by Michael A. Sand. The other book which I am currently reading is Bulding Hope Leadership In The Nonprofit World by John Bateson. I am very interested in how this kind of thing works.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Harry Turtledove The Breath of God

Harry Turtledove The Breath of God

This is the second novel in the series The World Beyond. It was preceded by Beyond the Gap. The novel is a kind of fantasy setting, but it feels very different. The magic being described is not the magic of throwing lightning bolts and summoning strange creatures. It is often quite subtle. A person may start clucking like a chicken, or become much more afraid of mammoths, or be bedeviled by flies.

The ice wall separating the glacier from the Raumsdalian Empire is melting. A ruthless barbarian tribe called the "Rulers" is invading. They ride mammoths and practice dark magic. In the north of the empire the barbarian Bisogoths are being crushed and enslaved.

A wandering adventurer, Count Hamnet Thyssen and his companions, Ulric Skakki , a tribal leders referred to as his ferocity, and the shamaness Liv are running and fighting the "Rulers." They are also seeking "The Golden Shrine." Eventually they are forced to the top of the glacier where it is so stark that the people on top of the the glacier resort to cannibalism to survive.

Count Hamnet, the main character very much reminds me of the accounts of Sir Richard Burton, Ibn Battuta, or Lawrence of Arabia. He is a man more comfortable living among barbarians who herd mammoths and musk oxen than living at court. He is so hated by the emperor that he is thrown in the dungeon when he comes back to warn the emperor of Raumsdalia.

This novel reads like a cross between a mens adventure novel, a bit of an alternate history story, and a fantasy novel. It incorporates all three. There is lots of action, sex, fighting, and some rather crude jokes thrown in for good measure. Harry Turtledove writes alternative history and fantasy novels. His most famous novel is Guns of the South. My favorite novel by him is Fox and Empire.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Maxime Faivre (1856-1914)A good read Oil on canvas, 1903

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Last week it was cartoons at the Louvre. Now the Morgan Library is doing an exhibition of cartoons about money. There is a certain irony in this considering the current economic conditions. Money is suddenly becoming a much more important subject, not that it wasn't already important.

The RUSA Reference and User Services Association of the ALA American Library Association has a new continuing education series for librarians. I am looking at the Library Marketing course and the Business 101 courses as things I might be interested in taking.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Devil's Eye by Jack McDevitt

The Devil's Eye by Jack McDevitt

This book is a suspense novel in a science fiction setting. Alex Benedict, an antiquities dealer is approached by a woman to find out what happened to her. Vicki Greene's recent memories were destroyed. Thus ensues a mystery of tracking down where Vicki Greene was.

Alex ends up on a planet on the very edge of the galaxy Salud Afar. I really like the name of the planet. Salud Afar has just come out of a long period of tyrannical rule by a single family. It is a dangerous place to be.

As the novel progresses, the danger becomes deeper, the mystery unravels to reveal an earth shattering disaster, and the story becomes poignant and deep. The action is very fastpaced and well thought out.

The writing is quite believable because the author focuses on what makes us human and tries to tell a story we can relate to. There are aliens in this novel, but they are not people in rubber suits. The aliens frighten humans to the core even though they are not that hostile. The aliens in turn are equally unsettled by us. They are telepathic "mutes."

I thought the author was a bit conservative with emotional reactions from the central character and could have added a little more depth. I got confused sometimes about the reactions of Chase Kolpath, Alex Benedict's partner. I felt that the reactions of Chase Kolpath were not that convincing for a lady character.

Jack McDevitt won the Nebula award for his novel Cauldron. I have enjoyed several of his previous novels, especially his archaeological science fiction novels which are quite unique.

Daily Thoughts, Reading With A Purpose

A public domain clip art image which I liked. Reading In The Study.

I did a bit of weeding for the electronics section. Now, I am ordering consumer electronics books. Books on audio, appliances, television repair, home theater, and similar subjects. I have started using to look up and see what different libraries around the country have on various subjects as part of my ordering process. I find it to be a very useful tool. It is almost a national library catalog for the United States.
People are taking more books from the display stand for current events.

Today is another quiet day. I have to go to one of those standard trainings on violence in the workplace and sexual harassment on Monday. This one is a little bit different. The local police department is giving the training to different agencies around the city. I think it will be more complete than the other ones I have attended. The public library is open to anyone who comes in.

Also the new director of the system is coming on Tuesday for a visit. We are a cooperative library system. This means we share resources but not rules or regulations. We have a common catalog and interlibrary loan, but separate budgets. Each town in our county runs their library differently.

I have started reading Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire. For some reason, I could not get myself to read his most famous book, Wicked about the Wicked Witch of the East from the land of Oz. It was even turned into a Broadway play.

Reading With A Purpose

Many people participate in reading challenges. I have done one so far. They usually involve reading a number of books in a particular subject like China, graphic novels, science fiction, or by a specific author. Sometimes people will read through a list of different authors in alphabetical sequence, or titles in alphabetical sequence.

There are a lot of different reasons to read. I am hoping to read a number of science fiction and fantasy novels and review them. My goal is to get some of the reviews linked to by the authors of the books. This has already happened with Slow Train To Arcturus, and A Secret History of Moscow. There is something very satisfying in getting your reviews acknowledged.

Although, I have never really asked openly, I would not mind receiving reviewers copies of books to read. I really don't need them because I am always surrounded by books, but if something especially interesting became available, I would not mind reading it. Maybe a new general interest non-technical computer book like Groundswell or Wikimomics would be interesting to receive.

The other reason I am reading is to improve my skills. I think that books like Spunk and Bite will improve my writing skill. I am not just looking to improve my general writing skills by reading, but specifically, my writing skills for blogging. Hot Text helped me a little bit with this. I am always looking for something new to learn.

Another hope I have is to gain access to free conference or training opportunities. A couple of years ago, they gave away free passes to bloggers at Book Expo America. It would be nice to go as a blogger and get in for free. I don't think this will happen again. Still, there is a nice discounted rate for librarians. I am looking forward to going to the O'Reilly Tools of Change For Publishing Conference.

Of course what I really should be doing right now is writing the reviews of the two books I finished reading yesterday.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Daily Thoughts

Domenico Feti (1589-1623)Portrait of a ScholarOil on canvas

Daily Thoughts

The Louvre museum is hosting its first comic book exhibition.

Today has been another steady day. I filled in a few books for the current events display that were taken out yesterday. I also put in some law inserts for the law books. I also started weeding the 621s the section on computer hardware and peripherals.

I ordered a bunch of accounting titles as well as new test book titles for open job positions listed in the county job listings. So, it is a smooth, quiet predictable day.

Today ended quietly without hassle. Nothing unexpected happened. No momentous events. No meetings. It was perfect.

I finished reading the The Devil's Eye by Jack McDevitt. I am digesting it in my mind right now. I want to think about it for a little bit before I start writing a review about it. It was a very good book, surprising in its ending. I also began reading The Breath of God by Harry Turtledove, a fantasy novel in a unique setting. I like Harry Turtledove's fantasy better than his alternate history novels. I have both books sitting in front of me next to my computer.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting Things Done When You Are Not In Charge by Geoffrey M. Bellman

Getting Things Done When You Are Not In Charge by Geoffrey M. Bellman

This book is about how to bring change and lead from the middle of an organization. It talks about informal networks of power and politics inside organizations. The book focuses on support, professional, and administrative positions. There is a focus on identifying peoples wants, creating incremental goals, and moving from what is to what you want the organization to be.

Everyone wants something at work. It often makes things easier if you can help them get it. It can be as simple as a new coffee pot to as hard as a whole series of new safety procedures. Fulfilling peoples wants increases cooperation. I wish more people understood this in workplaces. Throughout the book there are numbered lists with suggestions on how to improve your lot in the workplace. There is a very nice list on how to identify what people want in this book.

In change you look at what is currently happening, then where you want to be. This is not easy at all. Resistance to change is often about personal power and a sense of being respected as well as fear of being taken advantage of. Any kind of change is naturally uncomfortable, but often inevitable. We have a new director at our job, she has been here for a little over a year and has brought quite a bit of change.

Sometimes it is better to do things in a systematic incremental manner to reach your goals. Even if you don't fulfill the main objectives, you end up finishing a number of smaller goals along the way. Sometimes, larger goals seem unattainable. Systematically completing small projects gives enough confidence in your work for you to get larger projects. For example, I started ordering computer books, then I asked to have more money to build out a larger computer books collection because I thought we needed it.

I liked the reminder about your position in an organization being what you make of it. When I first started, I was in charge of making sure the reference books were in order and the law collection. Now, I am a bit overextended. I am currently in charge of ordering adult graphic novels, business books, job information center books, social science books, ereference, some programming, and law books.

There is a nice chapter on cross functional teams. It is a reminder that it is often easier to get things done in teams than as departments. We started a team for Bridges Out of Poverty at our work. During the last month we had sixteen different service agencies come to a meeting, and created a new services brochure. I don't think this would have been possible outside of a team.

This book is very useful if you to expand your role and responsibilities in a support position and bring about incremental systematic change. The book is not a book of theory, it is a book of practice. There are numerous lists of specific actions which you can take. The book has an index and bibliography. It was written in 1992, but almost everything still feels very relevant. There was a second edition printed in 2001. It was based on an earlier title, The Quest For Staff Leadership I would call this a classic of business writing.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Thomas Pollock Anschutz(1851-1912)Woman Writing at a Table Oil on canvas, c.1905

Miscellaneous Thoughts

The NEA has a new study which shows that people are starting to read literature again. For me this is an incredibly positive sign. It means that we will have more people learning again which will help start the economic recovery.

A social networking package for libraries, Librarything now has a module for library catalog to enhance the interactiveness. This looks quite interesting.

I walked up to my local library and looked around for a bit. I was looking for a high quality book on Microsoft Publisher, but they did not have it. I was not satisfied with the book I had gotten sent from another library previously. We have a couple new books on Microsoft Publisher 2007 at my job, but we are waiting for the cataloging information before they can be processed and I can use them.

I also took a look at accounting titles at my local public library. None of them are at the CPA level. We have had patrons coming in and asking for fairly advanced accounting. The problem is that many of these books are over $120 each and are very academic, for the brand new titles, they can run over $200 each for an accounting textbook. Most public libraries don't buy academic titles. The cost is very high and the cost for theft or loss is much higher than popular titles. There were a few titles which I wrote down to purchase.

Many professional nonacademic titles are approaching the price of academic college textbooks. This makes it quite difficult in some cases to support the public libraries mission of buying generalist nonacademic material. I have often thought that the more money you stand to gain from the knowledge in a technical book, the more a publisher will attempt to charge you for it.

Right now, I am reading The Devil's Eye by Jack McDevitt. It is an Alex Benedict novel. She is an archaeologist of both human and alien artifacts. The story is a mystery set in the far future. One of the good things about the novel and Jack McDevitt's writing is that it shows humans keep the same motivations even in a science fiction setting. Jack McDevitt won the nebula award for his novel Cauldron.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Daily Thoughts

James Jacques Joseph Tissot(1836-1902)Reading the News

Daily Thoughts

I spent much of this morning ordering computer books. It has been very quiet today. I learned that the whitehouse now has its own blog. I find it kind of interesting.

I spent some time going through Forecast from Baker & Taylor for February for mass market paperbacks. They had an interesting title How Barack Obama Won by Chuck Todd and Sheldon Gawiser. This should be interesting. Mostly, I ordered romance and suspense paperbacks. In addition, I looked through the January 1, 2009 and January 15, 2009 Kirkus Reviews. I mainly ordered social science titles from Kirkus.

Today has been a quiet, pleasant day.

I finished reading Getting Things Done When You Are Not In Charge by Geoffrey M. Bellman on the train home. It is about how to introduce change while not being officially in charge. The book focuses on administrative, professional, and support positions. It talks a lot about informal networks and informal politics in the workplace.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Daily Thoughts

Howard Pyle illustration of a handsome pirate, entitled "Buccaneer of the Caribbean", from Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates. Howard Pyle is one of my favorite book illustrators.

Daily Thoughts

Library Thing, a social networking site which exchanges personal catalogs of books has called for a new cataloging system called, "The Open Shelves Classification". It is based on the idea of crowd sourcing for common subject headings. I rather think the idea is very interesting.

I joined Book Bloggers, a 975 member social network on Ning.

Inauguration Day

Obama with a statue of Superman. A great pose for the new president of the United States of America. He also collects Spider Man comics.

Inauguration Day

Right now, I am listening to the inauguration ceremony 1010 Wins AM radio. I prefer to listen to political events on the radio and imagine what they are like. Barack Obama is swearing in on Lincoln's bible.

Yesterday was Martin Luther King's birthday. King paved the way for Obama so he would be able to take office. Without Dr. King they may have never been an Obama in office. Dr. King's legacy of nonviolence is a great contribution to the country. Martin Luther King made it possible for people to speak their political views without being physically intimidated.

I enjoyed reading Barack Obama's books Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming The American Dream. These books are both excellent reading.

My grandmother helped Dianne Feinstein in her election campaign for mayor in San Francisco a long time ago. Dianne Feinstein was one of the speakers during the inauguration. I think eventually she will run for the presidency.

I thought Obama's acceptance speech was very inclusive, it was a nice call to pull everyone together and work together. It also hit the right notes on the concept of the American dream.

I was at the laundromat folding clothes, so I got to watch some more of the inauguration on television. It was fun watching the inauguration day parade. I rather liked the pictures of the motorcade and the Native Americans on horseback. Obama came across very much as a man of the people walking in the parade.

While I am writing about Obama, I took this from off the web:

Barack Obama's favorite books: taken from his facebook page: of Solomon (Toni Morrison), Moby Dick,Shakespeare's Tragedies, Parting the Waters, Gilead (Robinson), Self-Reliance (Emerson), The Bible, Lincoln's Collected Writings. In a separate space, he had listed his favorite children's book Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Daily Thoughts

This is a short interview of Kevin Mitnick who was immortalized in the book by Bruce Sterling called The Hacker Crackdown.

Daily Thoughts

Right now, I am scanning my computer for viruses with Computer Associates anti-virus as well as using Spy Bot Search and Destroy to scan for trojans and malware. I have previously had denial of service attacks on this blog because people don't like what I am saying. I have also had a few attempts to hijack this blog. It was not a fun experience. Right now, I am having problems logging into a few sites.

Sometimes people claim my blog is spam because they do not like the content and I have to contact the place where people claim it was spam to get it back up. This has happened a couple of times. Remember, if you state anything objectionable, it can be considered spam. Be careful where and how you post.

I have learned to leave spam alone unless it has specific offensive content. Some people are not even aware they are spamming. Most of it is innocuous; come visit my site, I like your site; join my directory, I think you will like it. There is a very fine line between spam and regular advertising. Some people are a little too thin skinned about their political or social views and have a hard time accepting there are other viewpoints. A good argument can be fun.

I have located a few files which puzzled me and deleted them, they are Java Shinwow.BH, a nice little piece of work. All of my caches on my machine are cleaned out. I am still having problem with one site, but I now can log into Blogcatalog. My Java is now updated, I still have not updated Microsoft...

My machine is now thoroughly cleaned.

Independent Retailers Outperform Chains This Holiday Season, National Survey Finds . For me this is encouraging. I believe a move back towards more independent small businesses and more locally produced products will make the United States stronger.

I put a new book on hold, The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death: A Novel (Hardcover)by Charlie Huston (Author). It is reviewed on Amazon by Stephen King which is a bit surprising. I rather like Charlie Huston's Jo Pitt vampire detective novels. This looks like it may surpass them in bloodiness. It is about a company that cleans up after dead bodies.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Ghost In Love by Jonathan Carroll

The Ghost In Love by Jonathan Carroll

The Ghost In Love by Jonathan Carroll is a story about love, death, and responsibility. It is not a traditional ghost story, it is more of a paranormal romance with a healthy piece of philosophy added in. The novel is about changing the natural order of things.

Ben Gould falls and hits his head while walking his dog. He is supposed to die, but chooses not to. This is a glitch in the program of the natural order of things. Something has changed inside him and made the world different for him.

The novel is wonderful and lyrical. Characters remember their most magical moments in life, a policeman remembers eating cheeseburgers with his friend after winning a shopping spree in a toystore, Danielle Voys remembers going on a date with her boyfriend at a chinese restaurant, an old lady dances for her lover.

Ben Gould's ghost named Ling, German Landis Ben Gould's girlfriend, Pilot the talking dog, Danielle Voy's are all very memorable characters. The angel of deaht is a minor character is as well. Many of the characters are in love with each other. Pilot was Ben Gould's girlfriend in a past life, Ling is in love with German Landis, and Ben Gould is having a tough time loving German Landis.

The setting is the modern era with some starkly contrasting fantastic elements. Cats and rats work together, there is a magical taste called ofi; ofi symbolizes the pure love between childhood friends.

The novel is nonlinear; it moves back and forth in time. This nonlinearity seems to state we are all composed of many different parts of our past all trying to vie for our current attention. In order for us to function well we must reach consensus inside ourselves.

This novel helped me feel a lot more positive about myself after reading it. It aims to help you realize the deeply satisfying moments in life. I think it is a bit more than just a novel; it is a statement about finding happiness in everyday things and taking responsibility for your life.

Daily Thoughts

Advertisement for the New York literary journal, "The Bookman", April 1896.

Daily Thoughts

I got invited to another social networking group. It looks rather small right now, but it will grow. I rather like the simple design.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Daily Thoughts

Doctor Livesey and Squire Trelawney inspecting the map of Treasure Island

Daily Thoughts

Libraries as part of the economic recovery.

Library funds available through the economic stimulus package.

I took a walk up to my local library this morning. It is very cold and clear out today. There is ice everywhere on the sidewalks. But, there is no wind which makes it nice to walk around outside. The air is very clean and fresh. I dropped off a few books in the bookdrop then came right home. I have enough movies to watch and books to read right now.

I am reading some more of Getting Things Done When You Are Not In Charge. The first chapter is on the difference between leading and managing. The second chapter is about how to bring change about at any level of an organization. It is quite interesting to read. The author talks about an I, You, Want, and Is triangle diagram. Hopefully, it will help me make some interesting decisions.

I took some time and looked through, ZDnet, PcMag, and MacWorld to look for keywords on new and popular products. We have a huge amount of back orders on computer books, the publishers are not able to stock them quickly enough, so I have to figure out new varieties of things to look for or order them direct.

Some interesting new words were Android, Audacity, Bittorrent, Cubase, Digital Television, Evernote, Flickr, Gimp, Google Chrome, Google Docs, Twitter, Turbotax, Windows Azure (cloud computing), and Windows 7.

Sometimes, you don't even realize the obvious, Library Journal has a complete almost monthly review list for computer titles. It should make things much easier for me.

For some reason, I have not been at my best today. I wish I was, but I'm not. Maybe, things will be much better tomorrow. I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Daily Thoughts

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

New York Times articles on the Library of Congress

I put another book on hold, The Devil's Eye by Jack McDevitt. It is archaeological science fiction which can be kind of entertaining.

Today has been another quiet day. I finished the weeding of the social science books, now I have to do the oversize social science books. We have a selection of quarto titles. I'll probably help my colleague with shifting the 400's, 500's and 600's first to create space in one aisle of shelving units.

I did some weeding in the Job Information Center. I'll be working on getting updated titles for there as well as a variety of updated computer books for the new Windows Vista. People are still getting books focused on XP mostly.

I folded 100 service brochures for the public. This is the first batch that is going out to the public.

On the way home, I scanned through a bit of The Ghost In Love by Jonathan Carroll. I almost think it is more of a philosophical statement about what brings happiness and a sense of fulfillment in life than a novel. I will write a review about it tomorrow. It put me in a very good mood when I finished reading this book. I think I understand a bit more than I did before. There are a few things in it which might change a persons life for the better.

I am now reading Getting Things Done When You Are Not In Charge, How To Succeed In A Support Position by Geoffrey M. Bellman. This is a book about being productive and doing a good job in a support position.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Daily Thoughts

I just liked the heraldic symbol, I am not sure where it comes from.

Daily Thoughts

This morning, I finished reading The Ghost In Love by Jonathan Carroll on the train. I am thinking of rereading the book. It is the kind of book which is worth reading more than once. It is hard to know what is happening in the book until you finish it. Rereading it will give a better sense of the story.

I think by the end of the day, the shifting will be done in the social sciences section. I also updated some of the law books with inserts, and did some other minor activities like keeping the central display in order.

There is the usual back and forth for creating flyers. I have been working on getting a flyer done for a forclosure workshop at the library as well as a business workshop at the library. I am also trying to help with a flyer for a living wills workshop as well. I sent an email contact to SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) about doing a workshop on how to set up a home office. Hopefully, they will be able to do this in April.

Two books came in for me to read, Anthony Kiedis with Larry Sloman, Scar Tissue. This is the story of the lead singer of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Also The Breath of God by Harry Turtledove came in for me to read.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Daily Thoughts, Miscellaneous Tidbits

Portrait of Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra

Daily Thoughts

I am almost finished with weeding the social science books. I know that I will finish by the end of the week. I also am making the contacts to find out more about buying ebooks for the library.

Today is my open mike poetry reading. I have almost everything ready. I still have to find the coffee pot. It is somewhere around... I had one of those moments where I heated up some apple cider instead of coffee at the reading. It was eighteen degrees outside, so we only had a few people this time. Still I enjoyed the reading very much.

A considerably changed services brochure will be put out tomorrow for the public to see. I am hoping it will bring in some more people to use the library.

Miscellaneous Tidbits From Around The Web

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No Limits The Will To Succeed by Michael Phelps with Alan Abrahamson

No Limits the Will To Succeed by Michael Phelps with Alan Abrahamson

Michael Phelps is the epitome of his philosophy of W.I.N., What's important Now? He is the olympian with the most gold medals ever. In the 2008 olympics in Beijing he won eight gold medals in swimming. He set out to beat Mark Spitz's record and succeeded.

He tells you that this takes absolutely dedication and goal setting. He has a goal sheet which he shares with his coach and writes on every day. He practices for four hours every single day. His practice includes swimming, weightlifting, and dry calisthenics. He even trained at altitude to improve his endurance.

He also eats 8,000-10,000 calories a day because he trains so much. It is rather incredible. He does say, he includes fruits and vegetables in addition to everything else. Still it is kind of stunning.

This book is about sports and dedication to sports. He tells you his goal is not just to win at swimming, but to promote the sport for young people as well. He set up a foundation to help young people learn to swim. Michael Phelps wants swimming to be as important as basketball and baseball in the United States.

If you want to learn about building will power and overcoming obstacles this book is inspiring. When he was young, he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and took Ritalin until he was thirteen. At that point he stopped determined not to need it again.

Every bit of his attitude seems to be focused on getting better at what he does. He gave up other sports like baseball and football to focus on swimming when he was a teenager because tht was where his mother thought he would succeed.

Swimming is a sport where you have to constantly beat yourself: improve your time. He claims that he does not criticize other people, he only focuses on doing better and constantly breaking new records. He wants other swimmers to raise the bar for him.

I like that he is not quite perfect. He was given a ticket for drunk driving. He also listens to the rapper Lil' Wayne and has a dog. He credits a lot of his success to his mother.

This book is about winning and going beyond all normal limits. Training, setting goals, eating, winning in a big way. Even though he comes across as low key, the results are all larger than life. He even has a street named after him, Michael Phelps Way.

Daily Thoughts

Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence (Italy): Press.

Daily Thoughts

New green library building in Darien Connecticut.

I put The Breath of God by Harry Turtledove on hold. It is a fantasy novel. I like Harry Turtledove's fantasy much better than his alternate history novels.

On the train in to work, I started reading The Ghost In Love by Jonathan Carroll. Lots of fun; a talking dog, a ghost that cooks, a love affair gone bad, cosmic mishaps, and a deranged homeless man make for an interesting story.

Today has been a day to do a lot more weeding of the social science books. I may be done a little bit faster than I expected. I have a library aide helping me with the shifting right now, so that should speed up the process considerably.

The career counselor who comes in once a week, gave me a list of recommended titles to order for our job information center. I also use the Chief Newspaper which is the civil service newspaper for Manhattan, and the county job listings to order civil service test books.

I also went to the Council of Community Services meetings at noon which was helpful. We may have some more contacts to do events with very soon.

Right now I am also looking at two vendors for ebooks, YBP Library Services a service of Baker and Taylor books and Overdrive. I am looking at getting a small package of ebooks, about 500 of them, with three special sections, bestsellers, job books, and computer books. I have to examine the two services a little bit more. I realize that there is a burst of growth with the Kindle platform and the Sony Ereader platform.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Daily Thoughts

Rembrandt (1606-1669): "Portrait of Johannes Elison" (1634)

Daily Thoughts
Today has been very busy again. I did a lot more weeding in the social sciences section. I am also shifting the books around as I am weeding. This takes quite a bit of time to do. My colleague is weeding the education books right now. I am two thirds done with the social science books. I will definitely finish by the end of the month.

We finished working on the services brochure for our library. I also started working on a new business card for the library. I think I am beginning to get a sense of Microsoft Publisher. There are quite a few things more which we can work with. The next thing to do is to create a new sheet advertising our community spaces.

I also spent some time going over my orders to make sure I was not duplicating anyone elses orders. Everything appears to be clean. So, I think I am caught up with a lot of different activities. On Wednesday, I am doing another poetry open microphone.

I was too tired to read on the train to work this morning. I took a short nap instead.

The movie, Wall-E came in for me to watch. It looks very entertaining.

Right now, I am quite tired. I was so tired that I could not read. I could write though. I feel like a third person right now. An odd kind of poetry seems to be reaching me.

Burn star bright red hot
A meteor descending earthward
Crater a mile wide

Sleep waits for no man
Heavy lidded coffee eyes
Fueled in the long night

Innocence Nonsense
This is in no sense nonsense
It is a series series of thoughts

Thoughts written with writing

Philosophical philosophies in the now

Are you truly innocent inside
Or are filled fully with nonsense

This is a nice little biography of one of my favorite poets, Bob Kaufman. He has a flavor in his writing that is all his own. I especially like his poem, Abomunist Manifesto.

I have been looking at the idea of purchasing ebooks. There has been a tremendous surge in ebook usage; in the last year, Sony ebooks sold 300,000 units, and Amazon sold approximately 400,000 units of kindle, and over a million programs for reading books on the ipod have been downloaded.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

Mattie is a clockwork woman with a windup heart. She is like a porcelain doll made of whalebone, copper gears, and steel. In the center of her chest is a clear box with a hole in it. It is there that her creator, Loharri puts the key in to wind up her heart.

They exist in a city at the edge of an industrial age not our own. The novel is a kind of steampunk, but not in any Victorian style. There is a mix of the magic of alchemy and clockwork machines. Mattie is the bridge between two factions in the city, the mechanics and the alchemists. She is an intelligent automaton trained as an alchemist.

Unlike either faction, she can see the suffering of the common people, the poisoned air and water, the deformed children bred to work in the mines and the peasants forced off their land by automata. She also is in touch with the gargoyles, the fleeting creatures who represent the nobility who are quickly becoming irrelevant in the larger scheme of things.

The city itself is fascinating; there is the foreign quarter with its dark skinned inhabitants, the constant flow of centipede like carriages, the paper factories, the parliament, the palace toppoed with gargoyles, and the automatons doing menial labor. It is a city falling apart at the seems moving into civil war and destruction.

This story is a tragedy and it does not come to a happy ending. There is even an element of a love story between Sebastian, a rogue mechanic, and Mattie. This goes against the wishes of her creator, Loharri. The sense of tragedy and forbidden love is what makes the book so wonderful and lyrical. The story pits the ideas of tradition versus progress against each other leaving ruin in the end. The story is full of unique images and has a poetic quality to it that touches your sense of wonder and imagination.

Ekaterian Sedia also wrote The Secret History of Moscow. This is a story of weird fiction. I could compare it to Jeff Vandermeer's Ambergris novels, or possibly China Mieville. She has a website, .

Daily Thoughts

Girl With A Love Novel

Daily Thoughts

I went to the doctor this morning. I lost another 3 pounds. I am trying not to diet, but instead focus on changing my personal habits. I rather like the idea of the book I Can Make You Thin by Paul A. McKena. It is supposed to be about the psychology of eating; things like how to stop eating when you are upset, and how to control your impulses. I think that I have to stop snacking on cashews and trail mix during the day. They have a lot of fat in them. I asked him about an exercise bike. He told me that I should do some aerobics every day; but more importantly I should watch my diet.

Of course if I was truly creative, I could live off of the bacon and food stains which people live in returned books. I find this article rather satirical.

I finished reading No Limits: The Will To Succed by Michael Phelps with Alan Abrahamson. Michael Phelps won eight gold medals in the 2008 olympics in swimming. He is the olympian who has won the most medals. This book is about a total focus and dedication to the sport of swimming. It is a very good book if you want to understand what it takes to be a champion.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Shadow Of The Scorpion A Novel of the Polity by Neal Asher

Shadow Of The Scorpion A Novel of the Polity by Neal Asher

This is a science fiction novel. It is about a spy, Ian Cormac, a remorseless man with a capacity for extreme violence and an ability to think on his feet. There is a lot of action and intrigue in this novel.

This story is the beginning of Ian Cormac's career. It starts wtih Ian Cormac's first tour of duty in the military. The setting is at the end of a war between the human Polity and the Prador, a vicious predatory alien carnivorous species who view humans as exotic cattle.

Not all of humanity likes being part of the Polity. Artificial intelligences have taken over creating an age of prosperity for humanity. People are better housed, clothed, and educated. Still, people want their freedom. Not everyone wants to be integrated into a machine society.

There are flashbacks to Ian's childhood. His mother reminds him that he should be an adult before he accepts any cybernetic enhancements. Part of the theme of this novel is the relation between man and machine and what keeps us human.

Ian Cormac finds himself at the wrong place at the right time. He is recruited by the artificial intelligences to investigate rebel activity next to a fallen Prador ship. His job is to prevent the rebels from getting access to alien weapons of mass destruction.

It is a trial by fire for Ian who must outthink the rebels and outfight them despite being untrained in espionage. Cormac demonstrates constant ruthlessness, biting sarcasm, willingness to tinker with deadly weapons, and the ability to mislead with the best.

There is a second thread with flashbacks to Ian's childhood. His mother has excised many of the memories which would have caused him pain or remorse. Many of these memories are about the war with the Prador. A rogue artificial intelligence helps him remember about his fathers death and other painful childhood memories. The removed memories are part of what make him so dangerous.

This novel is very dark. It asks a lot of philosophical questions. What divides humans from machines? How can we maintain our freedom and individuality in an artificial world? Combined with the philosophical questions are all out fast paced action sequences. The artificial intelligences come across as more human than humanity. I had a hard time putting this novel down.

Daily Thoughts

Sun Tzu the author of the military classic, The Art of War which is about strategy. I could compare it to Musashi's The Book of Five Rings which is about strategy. Both are well worth reading. These books are not just about fighting, they are about being organized and excellent.

Daily Thoughts

I took a walk to my local library this morning. It started snowing just as I was coming home; so I rushed home and got in the car and drove to get the groceries. It is snowing hard outside.

I picked up a book at my local library, Click What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters Unexpected Insights for Business and Life by Bill Tancer. I am hoping it may give me some insights into why people go to websites. I also picked up two bookmarks. One is for Read Away Your Fines, a program for people under 16 that want to lower their fines. It works by giving people $1 per half hour they sit and read towards their fines. So if you read for an hour, you get $2 towards paying your fine in library bucks, a form of scrip. It seems a little low for fine reductions. The other bookmark is a notice about book renewals; you can renew by phone or on the internet.

I tried to read Click, but it quickly became agonizing. I find web metrics to not be the most fascinating subject. This book is essentially about web data in a very general way. If you are fascinated with statistics you might like this book. Statistics was not my favorite subject. Also, the book is by a first time writer. The writing is a bit dull with not enough variety in its vocabulary. Take a pass and try something else.

The something else is No Limits The Will To Succeed by Michal Phelps with Alan Abrahamson. Michael Phelps won eight gold medials in swimming. I admit my own basis, when I was younger, I was on the swim team. I only won first place once in backstroke. Still, swimming is an excellent healthful sport that keeps you in great shape. This book is about performance and the will to win.

I am realizing that my goal with my website with traffic is not to get massive traffic but to draw in quality traffic that will give me ideas in the publishing and library world. It is not about having a huge number of hits, but having regular readers who show an interest in what I am writing about.

I went and bought a new mouse for my computer. I still had the same mouse with the little rubber ball I had from three years ago. It was working until now. Now I have a Logitech USB optical mouse. I feel a little bit like a luddite; I generally follow the idea of if it is not broken don't fix it. I should probably get a thumb drive for my keychain as well.

O'Reilly Tools For Change Publishing Conference 2009

O'Reilly Tools For Change Publishing Conference 2009

I will be attending the February 9 and 10, 2009 O'Reilly Tools For Change Publishing Conference. . I have to thank Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020 Blog for telling me about this conference The conference looks tremendous.

It took me a while to get the paperwork together to get my job to cover meeting attendance for the conference. I had to provide a detailed agenda of what I was doing at the conference for them.

This is my agenda:

Contact and look at the booths for the following conference sponsors:

I will be visiting O'Reilly Media (we buy Missing Manuals Series as well as many other computer books for our library.) Oreilly has just made all 140 of their titles available as ebooks

I also intend to visit a variety of other vendors including Frommer's Custom Travel Guides (I think they might have a new online product for travel), Safari Books Online (They have an ebooks package for computer books for libraries.), Espresso Book Machines (a print on demand book system.), and The Book Industry Study Group.

I intend to bring back literature from the exhibitor floor for the library. The list is short enough that I won't need a floor map of exhibitors. Hopefully, I will be put on mailing lists for publisher information.

The conference sessions which I am attending are planned out as well:

1) Monday 8:00 a.m. Blogs and Social Media which is led by Chris Brogran of Cross Tech Media. The library I work at is redesigning their web page. Part of the web redesign will be a library blog. We have not chosen a platform or done anything with it yet. I think it could benefit from services like LinkedIn and Twitter.

2) Monday 1:30 p.m. Building Communities Around Content led by Francois Gossieaux (Beeline Labs & Society for New Communications Research.) I am hoping that I can find more about books and publishing communities. When we design a library blog it will have some different purposes than a personal blog. I am interested in how to structure announcements for events.

3) On Tuesday Cory Doctorow will be giving a keynote speech for half an hour. I really like his writing, especially the articles he has written for Locus Magazine. Cory Doctorow has numerous free books available on the internet including the essay Ebooks, Neither E nor Books for the 2004 O'Reilly conference

I am also interested in the keynote speech by Peter Brantley from the Digital Library Federation. The presence of large collections of free ebooks is having a very interesting impact on the way people read. I sometimes look at Project Gutenberg to read books that our out of copyright.

4) Tuesday at 10:45 a.m. I am going to Google Book Search past, present, and future by Jon Orwant. Google has been in the news lately with its settlement with the publishing community. I think the session should be quite interesting. Library Journal wrote several articles on this subject.

5) Tuesday at 1:40 p.m. I am going to the session on The Rise of Ebooks with Joe Wikert and Mark Coker. I am interested in hearing about the changes taking place with ebooks. Sony ebooks sold over 300, 000 electronic ink readers last year. Kindle has not released its sales figures for ebooks. The Kindle has been endorsed by people like Oprah Winfrey.

6) On Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. I will be attending What Does The Future Look Like for Publishers. There has been a lot of consolidation in the publishing world, as well as the move of much of the news to online mediums. I prefer reading my news online, and my books in print.

This all may change depending on how things go at the conference. I am looking forward to a very diverse program and a chance to learn a lot about the changes that are happening in the publishing industry. These will all "trickle down" into the library world as well.

I am still looking at the website for the conference to find out a little bit more. I am going to be working on a new business card for the conference.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Daily Thoughts

Damien L'Homme (formerly attributed to Sébastien Stoskopff): The Great Vanity Still-life - detail (1641, Oil on canvas)

Daily Thoughts

I tried to read The Lost Art of Walking by Geoff Nicholson on the train to work today, but found it to be rambling, meandering, and unfocused. I did not like the style the book was written in. It was apparent to me within the first chapter of the book. I like the subject, but not the content of the book.

So, I switched The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia. This book has a wonderful poetic quality to it. The imagery is dreamy and sweet. It is in a mix of a steampunk and fantasy setting.

I spent almost the whole day weeding books from the social sciences section. Right now, I am in the section on drug abuse and social welfare. We have a lot of books in this section. I ended at the beginning of the section on true crime. I think I might get some more books on gang prevention. It is something which the community needs.

After weeding, I went and checked the books in the sections I am ordering for to see how they are circulating. The computer books section are moving very fast. So are the Job Information Center books. I think we might change the heading to a more proper one; Education Job Information Center. We also order lots of books on getting into college.

I take the time to check on all the sections which I am in charge of regularly. This gives me a sense of whether or not I am ordering the right things. As part of this, I check the new books section to see what has come in the last few days. It makes it seem like magic when I can pull out a new book which someone is looking for because I checked the section earlier. We order from the New York Times Bestseller List, Publishers Weekly Bestseller List, and Ebony magazine books list.

I set up an appointment for a lawyer to come in and do a workshop on living wills. Our books on living wills are going out faster than we can keep them. She already did a program on wills earlier. It is also an easy program where she comes in and has all the handouts already prepared. There are a number of other programs which are in the pipeline as well; a possible digital photography program, a SCORE program probably on having a home office, and a program on financial literacy.

I watched the restored edition of The Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland. Sometimes, I think a librarians degree is like the scarecrow's degree, a ThD, Doctorate in Thinkology. It was fun watching it tonight.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Daily Thoughts

Ellery Queen (left), American mystery writer, and James Yaffe

Daily Thoughts

Cory Doctorow: Writing In The Age of Distraction

Today was interesting. We had two rounds of meetings with local service agencies; one at 10 a.m. and one at 2 p.m. We talked about the services which are available at our library, and gave a variety of handouts to the visiting agencies. The agencies wanted a variety of improvements. They would like a service to fill out government forms; a map of the library, and many other improvements.

We had coffee, tea, fruit, and some pastries. I ended up speaking twice about the service brochure which I wrote with my colleague. This is the first time it has been shown to the public. It is a work in progress right now. I think I did fine with it. I am not that used to doing community outreach.

Something I noticed while we were working on the design of the new services brochure in Microsoft Publisher is that working on this blog has considerably changed my sense of design. Looking at lots of blogs gives you an idea of which two and three column pages work well. You end up reading lots of two and three column documents if you follow blogs. I think that it has improved my basic editing skills considerably.

Manipulating text boxes has become much easier in microsoft documents because of how blogs are broken up into discreet bites. I had previously designed flyers in Microsoft Word, but this is the first time I am using publisher to create documents. I am looking forward to further training in how to use publisher to create documents. So far, I have worked on bookmarks, 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch pages, flyers, and brochures. I think I might try and design a business card in publisher on card stock.

I had a chance to finish reading The Shadow of the Scorpion by Neal Asher on the way home. I will begin writing a review tomorrow. The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, and Literature of Pedestrianism by Geoff Nicholson came in for me to read. I once again have to many books to read. It has become a habit now that I have began writing about books that I have several to read.

Many books after reading the first chapter cease appealing to me. I find this happens more and more as I read more. Learning about grammar, editing, and reviewing changes your view on books considerably.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Daily Thoughts

Peter S. Beagle at University of California Berkeley. He is the writer of The Last Unicorn and A Fine and Private Place.

Daily Thoughts

Here goes. Today was rather interesting. I ordered some military titles and did some more weeding. A new book came in for me, Shadow of the Scorpion, A Novel of the Polity by Neal Asher. It is a science fiction novel. I even started reading it on the train home.

Mostly I have been printing up fliers, a new email reference flyer, a flyer for Weslaw Patron Access Computers, and a flyer for Learn-A Test databases. I also have been working on a new service brochure which we are going to present to a group of visiting people from the local service agencies. I am looking forward to the event tomorrow. It should be quite interesting.

I spent time folding up the new brochures about services available at the library, and cutting out "How To Get A Library Card" bookmarks for tomorrows meeting this evening. There are stacks of brochures, flyers and bookmarks on my desk ready to go. I still have quite a bit to go tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Daily Thoughts

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

This was on Alabama Bookworm's blog. I found it kind of entertaining.

I have started reading The Knights of the Cornerstone by James P. Blaylock. It is a modern fantasy novel in the tradition of Neil Gaiman or John Crowley. It has a very nice otherworldly feeling of a novel full of hidden secrets.

I read through several copies of The New York Times Book Review this morning and selected a graphic novel, Swallow Me Whole, for purchase as well as several social science titles. Sometimes, the New York Times Book Review gets to be very plain. You get used to it after reading it every week for years on end. I also put the The lost art of walking : the history, science, philosophy, and literature of pedestrianism by Geoff Nicholson on hold for myself. I love walking. I am not a fast moving person. It is one of the reasons I like yoga as well. It is done in a slow relaxed manner.

Two more books came in for me to read, The Ghost In Love by Jonathan Carroll and The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia. A nice bit of fantasy and steampunk by two excellent authors.

I spent some more time weeding the social sciences section. I just finished weeding the military section in the social sciences. It needs to be updated. I put some Jane's military guides up for order on fighter planes, warships, and submarines. This should help a small amount. I am not too familiar with military books. I have to figure out where a good contemporary military bookstore is online so I can look at their stock. Strand Books and Powell's both have military sections, does not, nor does Barnes and Noble.

I finished reading Knights of the Cornerstone on the way home on the subway train. It is a nice novel, but not an exceptional novel. It kind of meanders along telling the story of Calvin Bryson whose relatives are part of a mystical cult related to the Templars called The Knights of the Cornerstone.

The cornerstone is a stone from the original temple mount in Jerusalem. They supposedly used it to found their community. The story begins with a mystical object, a holy veil. This veil is supposed to have special powers. There are other examples of holy relics throughout the story. Sometimes the characters don white shirts with red crosses. I don't find the mysticism to be particularly compelling as it is told in this story.

The adversary is not truly evil, he is in it for the money. He is mindlessly vicious. A force of nastiness. He views the relics as a source of cash and seeks the treasures which the communities holds. This is not particularly convincing. I think while the story is entertaining; it could have been much better.

The hero is a kind of every man, a cartoonist who has been pulled into the unfolding story. He is not particularly convincing as a hero. I wish he was a bit more heroic. I can't really recommend this story. It is neither here nor there. It is not bad, but not good either.

Another novel which I tried to read earlier was Andy Remic War Machine. After a while, I couldn't read anymore. One character drinks fourteen pints of guinness and continuous to fight in a bar fight. There is a gratuitous macho theme to this science fiction novel. It has a James Bond like quality where the fights and the jokes become preposterous in a tongue and cheek way.

This makes the story a little bit fun, but at the same time overblown. If you want slap stick wildness you might like this novel. It purports to be hard military science fiction, but when does a lady fight a poisonous fanged robot with a super sharp sword and win in hard science fiction. A little bit too silly for my tastes.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Big Box Swindle The True Cost of Mega Retailers and the Fight for America;s Independent Business by Stacy Mitchell

Big Box Swindle The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the
Fight for America's Independent Business
by Stacy Mitchell

This book is a statement against big box retailers;
Lowe's, Walmart, Costco, Barnes & Noble, and Toys R' Us
are some of the businesses which are challenged. It
also challenges Amazon, the online mega-retailer.

The central thesis of this book is that big box stores
do not serve the communities which they operate in: they
lower wages, increase unemployment, increase urban
blight, and give very little back to the communities
they are part of both in terms of charity and money.

Mega retailers owe their allegiance to the stockholders
which hold shares of their company, not the communities
which they operate in.

This often leads to behavior where in order to save
money, the big box retailers use tactics which smaller
independent businesses cannot support. They ask for
development grants, tax breaks, and training programs
from the government. Then after being
in communities, they often abandon the buildings they
are operating in to move to large facilities, pollute
the environment, and break labor laws.

The government tends to take the side of large
corporations. Recently, there have been examples of
using eminent domain to take peoples home to build
shopping centers and mega malls. There is an assumption
that because the mega retailer is cheaper, it is better
for the community. It is the attitude of support the
consumer saving money at all costs.

I personally find mega malls very uncomfortable. They
are impersonal, the clerks often know very little about
the products they are selling, are underpaid, and have
very little investment in the community. I can go to
the local pharmacist and get good service and help with
prescriptions. This does not happen at Walgreens.
There are numerous examples of how much better service
is in a small business in this book.

It is very hard to be a prosumer, a person who sees his
choices in what he consumes as being part of the outcome
of what will be produced in a big box store setting. I
see myself as part of the process of producing and
consuming books at the same time. I make a lot of
choices about how books are purchased and I consume a
lot of them as well.

I am lucky to live in a neighborhood with a fruit stand,
several non-chain restaurants, and many small
businesses. It keeps the character of the neighborhood

I do not like the massive unchecked growth I see in the
big box stores. Walmart looks like a monopoly to me. I
can see it being broken apart much like Standard Oil was
broken apart. I also don't like the way big box stores
have gained unfair advantages in controlling supply
chains and distribution. It took a $46 million dollar
settlement fought for by the American Bookseller
Association to even out the discounts from distributors
between Barnes and Noble and independent

I like the descriptions of how communities are resisting
having their downtowns taken over by mega retailers.
Some communities place size limits on commercial
buildings, other communities limit the franchises in
their neighborhoods, and still others are forming
community stock corporations to open independent
groceries and department stores where there were none

In some instances small businesses are forming buyers
cooperatives. Ace hardware is a buyers cooperative that
allows independents to remain competitively priced with
Lowe's or Home Depot. Also some towns are forming
independent business alliances like the Austin
Independent Business Alliance.

This book demonstrates the struggle between big box
retail stores and independent businesses. I am on the
side of shopping locally for the most part. I do admit
that I shop online as well. I think they did not do
that great a job covering online shopping in this book.
However, I support the idea of small business preserving
the character of communities as well as the middle
class. This book is very informative. Even if you
don't agree with it completely, it is a very interesting

There is an index and very extensively referenced notes.
I wish the author had separated the books out from the
notes and created a bibliography. It would have made
the book much better. The author probably wouldn't have
liked me using Amazon to show the book. But, in a way,
I actually like Amazon a bit even if it is a mega-retailer.