Saturday, May 31, 2008

Morning Thoughts

Beatrix Potter with her dog Spot. Photograph taken in 1881.

Yesterday, I cleared out the display case for the Super Librarian display and put in a new display. I am doing books with movies or movie tie-ins. Basically, it is taking dvd and displaying the book that goes with the movie. A few of the movies displayed are, Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, Diana Wynn Jones Howl's Moving Castle, Harvey Pekar American Splendor, and The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares.

Yesterday, while I was looking through the dvd's for circulation, I found Miss Potter, a movie about Beatrix Potter starring Renee Zellwegger. I am looking forward to seeing a movie about the creatrix of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck, and Benjamin Bunny some of my favorite childhood books. It looks to be an excellent art film. There are supposed to be some animation sequences in the film as she is dreaming of her children's book character.

I was reading The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie. It really is a very well designed book. The book is printed on acid free paper, has a very nice jacket design, and even lists the typeface in the back, Bembo which is quite elegant and easy to read.

I am reading another book at the same time, Full of Bull by Stephen T. McClellan. I usually don't read two books at once, but I am doing it now.

I took a few minutes to add Shelfari to my blog. This is a picture of the books which I have read. It is on the sidebar now. It looks kind of interesting. . I spent a few minutes looking around Shelfari. I put in my logo and joined a few discussion groups mostly on science fiction and fantasy. It looks like most social networking sites, there are friends, groups, and a shared subject books.

I took a look at Librarything, you can catalog up to 200 books on librarything for free. There must be a lot of people who think cataloging is fun. I am not that into detail to find cataloging books to be fun. I have to say that librarything is not my cup of tea. I would much rather read about books and advise people on books. Still, there are some interesting things in library thing. For example, the collection of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art catalog of graphic novels is freely available to look at. . There are other catalogs available as well.

I think Goodreads would be redundant on this site. This is what I am already doing with the blog I am writing now.

A few more reserves came in for me to check out. I am being flooded with books again. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow came in. I would say it is a near future thriller for young adults. Also America's Hidden History, Untold Tales of The First Pilgrims, Fighting Women, and Forgotten Founders Who Shaped A Nation by Kenneth C. Davis came in. This should be a fairly interesting history book.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Daily Thoughts

The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice helped ban the famous book Ulysses by James Joyce for a time.

I was not particularly impressed with The One Minute Entrepreneur. I read it while I was coming in on the train this morning to work. It is very much a feel good book about having a very positive outlook on life. The premise of the book, someone opening a successful speaking and motivation bureau is too close to the writers of the book.

It turns the book into a giant hundred page cliche. If you want to read something upbeat for a customer service or salesperson this book would be good. It is too focused on sales and touches too lightly on other aspects of entrepreneurship. I am not sure I would even call this book a book about entrepreneurship. It is really about running a motivational sales business. If you sold greeting cards with positive sayings this would ring true. However, if you were selling copy machines you would be at a loss for words after reading this book.

This book is like so many of the positive spin books out there, great for motivating your people, but impractical. There are places in the book which are so full of wishful thinking that they are astounding. For example, you should open your account books then people will be understanding when they get their salaries cut and there is a hiring freeze. However, if you want a positive story which will help you feel good about selling just about anything, this book is for you.

There are a lot of very simple tips at the end of each chapter. These are about basic success in life, not just as an entrepreneur. Things like read every day, keep a journal, be upbeat, make sure you bring in more money than you spend, customer service is important, take time for god, balance your life between work and family, be honest, and various maxims for success in life and business.

At the end of the book, they have a brief bibliography which lists various self help business books. These are pretty basic things like The One Minute Manager, Raving Fans, Life Is Tremendous, and Kingdomality. There is a mix of sales training with evangelical Christian ministry in this book which is a bit over the top. This is the kind of book which I would not buy, but might check out of the library.

Just as an afterthought, my favorite motivational book is by Dr. Seuss, it is meant for someone just graduating high school or college, and is quite entertaining. Oh The Places You'll Go.

I put another book on hold today, Sagramanda by Alan Dean Foster. It is supposed to be a near future thriller set in modern India. Near future thrillers are kind of interesting, they extrapolate changes in technology in the near future. They usually have some kind of espionage or disaster happening. The last near future thriller I read was William Gibson's Spook Country

Right now, I am holding Full of Bull, Do What Wall Street Does, Not What It Says, To Make Money In The Market by Stephen T. McClellan. This is an analysis of what analysts mean when they are reporting by an analyst with 32 years of wall street experience. It talks about biases, blindspots, and manipulation in financial reporting. I think I put the book on hold about four weeks ago. There is often no telling when a book will come in that is on reserve.

I was looking around on the web again. This time, I found a nice little article on how to read business books by Seth Godin. I am posting a link to this article, because it seems relevant for the moment.

I also looked through Kirkus Reviews this morning. They have a book which I hopefully will get to read. It isn't coming out until August 18, 2008. A Universal History of the Destruction of Books From Ancient Sumer to Modern Day Iraq by Fernando Baez.

One of the things this blog is about is the relation between social networking and books. There are three major social networks that combine social networking with books , , and . Please let me know about any others you can think of. I intend to look at them a little more closely in the next week.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thoughts For The Day

Reading room at the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA).

I can imagine sitting here drinking a cup of tea, maybe with a candle on the table and reading a book. I've never been here but the picture is mildly inspirational. I am in a whimsical mood and am not quite sure what to say today.

I am sitting in my local library right now. I have a copy of One Foot In The Grave by Jeaniene Frost in front of me, which I had seen from the Avon Romance blog. It has an imprint on the side which reads Avon Paranormal Romance. I am going to take this home to read.

I also have a business inspiration book called The One Minute Entrepreneur by Ken Blanchard, Don Hutson, and Ethan Willis. It is in the same grain as the bestselling book, The One Minute Manager. I feel like I might have a Who Moved My Cheese moment and be inspired in a business sense. There is a whole class of business books that are inspirational and create a positive attitude but have very little practical business application. The classic book in positive thinking is The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. It has spawned an endless series of copies.

I'll probably look around some more today in the library after I run out of time to sit at the computer. I haven't looked closely at the graphic novels yet.

While I was browsing through the new books, I of course saw a movie book, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull by James Rollins. It looks kind of ridiculous. This is one of those instances where I will wait for the movie to come out on dvd, rather than reading the book spinoff.

Today has been a rather slow day. Earlier, I went downtown and took the bus. Parking is hard to find there. On the way in, I read more of The Enchantress of Florence: A Novel by Salman Rushdie. I have not read anything quite like his style. It is quite unique and quite irreverent. The book is full of tricks, insults, and philosophical musings.

I picked up a few shirts and got some Chinese food to bring home, steamed chicken with rice. It comes with some cabbage and a kind of light soy sauce.

I also walked to the library. Now, I am here sitting in front of the computer writing something which you can read. I posted a message on twitter about sitting in the library. There is something novel about doing social networking in a public place. I don't have a laptop with wireless.

I wonder what it would be like to wander around with wifi and do social networking applications while sitting in small cafe drinking coffee. I know there must be a few people doing that right now who are reading this blog. Make a comment if you want.

I actually like writing these random thoughts. It is kind of relaxing. My time will be up soon. I was sitting next to some teenagers for a moment who were playing with myspace. One person had 11 pages of myspace contacts, over 200 contacts. It was kind of astounding.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

MBA In A Day-- Steven Stalser Ph.D. -- Review

MBA In A Day by Steven Stralser, Ph.D. served its purpose for me. It gave me an outline of the management functions of an MBA.

Each chaptered covers a specific aspect of business management. There are a wide variety of subjects covered, human resources, organizational behavior, leadership and team building, ethics, negotiation, accounting and finance and many other subjects. At the end of each chapter there was a short bibliography of recommended reading.

The chapters contained many definitions of business theories. I found the section on leadership styles covering autocratic, democratic, laissez faire, transactional, and transformational leadership to be interesting. I think the new director would like to turn the library into a "high performance organization." The section on Quality Management was also quite enlightening.

The main complaint I have about this book is I thought that it did a rather weak presentation of the internet and ecommerce as well as management information systems function. It seemed to be limited in its coverage.

This book is useful if you want to understand what an MBA does. It gives an outline of the different functions of business administration as well as basic definitions of the central ideas behind current business management.

There is nothing new or exciting in this book. It was written in 2004. It is more of a practical book than anything else. There is an index and some pages have black and white diagrams. The book is well laid out, making it easy to follow. It is clearly written for a professional like a lawyer, doctor, or small business owner.

Thoughts On Self Education

I received a comment yesterday sitting on the train while I was reading MBA In A Day. Some guy said, "I learned more from reading books than I did spending six years in college, it is more efficient and faster." I never got the guys name. But, I think in many ways this is correct. Teaching yourself to learn for your own purposes is a gift. Not everyone is self directed. Libraries are a boon to this kind of thinking.

Anyways, I am off to work. I will be finishing up reading MBA In A Day will give my thoughts on the book later tonight or tomorrow.

Today has managed to be pretty busy. I am one of two librarians at the reference desk, so I have spent a lot of time answering peoples questions today.

There are also two programs going on today. I helped them find some anime dvds for the teenagers to take out, Wings of Honnemaise, Ghost In The Shell, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Our Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Porco Rosso, The Castle Otranto, Castle In The Sky, Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind, Tenchi Muyo, Fist of the Northstar and other anime classics which we have as part of our film collection. A few other titles were checked out already like Neon Genesis Evangelion and The Animatrix. A lot of stuff by Hayao Miyazaki. I hope they like the program.

The other bit of business was helping make sure a SCORE Marketing workshop was done correctly. We signed up nine people to attend the program. Seven people are currently listening to the speaker. A lot of it was calling all the people who signed up for the program to ask them to come the day before. We set up the tables in a u shape, much like a big conference table. Light refreshments were put out as well. We get juice, water, and cookies for people to drink and eat.

Right now I am doing the night shift at the reference desk. I have three unopened magazines sitting next to me, the May 15, 2008 Library Journal, the May 19, 2008 Publishers Weekly, and the May 15, 2008 Booklist. I am kind of reluctantly looking at them. I took a quick look through them. I chose a few reference books to order and put a book on hold, In The Court of the Crimson King by S.M. Stirling. I am a bit intrigued by God's Demon by Wayne Douglas Barlowe. However, I am a bit wary of the content. Wayne Barlowe's site is really fascinating

I am off tomorrow, because I work this Saturday, luckily our time is a bit flexible where I work. We don't get overtime, but we do get some flexibility with our time arrangements so it evens out in the end.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Daily Thoughts

I have been reading a bit more of MBA In A Day. We have a new director at our library. She has a Masters in Administration. I am trying to figure out what exactly goes into the masters degree. Most librarians don't have administrative training. They tend to have a masters in library science. This creates a kind of odd distinction in our library. Understanding the strategies being used to change where I work should be quite helpful.

One of the books I requested has come in, The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie. I am looking forward to reading this. I haven't read any books by him yet. Many of his books were banned in Muslim countries for their content. He is supposed to write in the style of magical realism.

I had a chance to read the latest New York Times Book Review and look throught the various bestseller lists. I put a few more books on hold, America's Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis, and American Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent. The title American Nerd has a very nice ring to it. It is very attention getting. That is why I became interested in the book almost immediately. Plus, I secretly harbor ambitions to nerdom, I am one of those outliers on the borders.

Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson is in the catalog. There is a record but there are no copies attached to the record. This means I will eventually be able to put the book on hold. These things always are a matter of patience.

I also put Little Brother a new book by Cory Doctorow on hold. Cory Doctorow can be pretty radical sometimes. I am looking forward to reading something a bit different in this title. It is a young adult title.

For those of you who like pictures, I was looking at Pulp Gallery today, it has thousands of images of old pulp fiction covers. It can be quite intriguing. Spicey Adventure, Famous Detective, The Shadow, The Spider, Argosy, Doc Savage and many other covers are shown there. It really gives a sense of nostalgia for yesteryear.

My Technorati favorites came back. My fans are back. Technorati is working again. It took about eight days. They were polite and fixed the problem.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Morning Thoughts

I have started reading MBA In A Day by Steven Stralser, Ph.D.. It really can't teach you how to be an MBA in a day. I've figured this out. It appears to be an outline of all the different mangement functions which an MBA might do in an organization. The descriptions are brief and to the point. I have been able to follow the writing pretty closely.

I sometimes like to read the Avon Romance Blog. I think Avon Romance as a company is quite innovative. They are on Entrecard. There is no other publisher trying out Entrecard. I think they can often be more savvy than other publishers concerning what people want to read. They are also doing a much better job with the concept of social networking than many other publishers if you look at their blog closely. Romance is after all the most popular fiction genre.

I was looking at a title on their blog, One Foot In The Grave, it looks quite interesting. I think they are doing a really good design with the way they present their blog. The blog also feeds into the authors website which is just as interesting to look at. I may suggest the title for purchase.

On another note, I have been having some trouble with Technorati. About six days ago, I lost all my fans. I also could not add or look at my favorites. They gave me back my fans. I have twenty seven of them right now. However, they have not restarted the favorite function for me. It has been six days. They claim that it is due to technical difficulties. I have been thinking about whether or not to end my service with them or switch to another service. My rating is still going up. I am not worried if they ask me to leave, my service has been effectively terminated.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thoughts for The Day.

Stan Lee's Soapbox. This is from playcole. The voice is Stan Lee's. It is kind of interesting to listen to.

I spent a little bit of time looking through the Comic Values Annual 2007. I like to look through the price guides before I visit a comic book stores. The prices are often not what I am looking for. The titles are what I am looking for. I make a list of titles I have not read or seen so I can look at them when I visit the shop.

For example, when I next visit a comic book shop, I will probably take a look at Aliens, Earth War, Usagi Yojimbo (one of my favorite comics), Cosmic Heros, Prince Valiant Monthly, and Spirit The Origin Years.

There are so many different comics which the Comics Value Annual reminded me about. Some of my favorite comic artists are Richard Corben, who created Den from Heavy Metal, Vaughn Bode creator of Junkwaffel, Alan Moore creator of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Stan Sakai creator of Usagi Yojimbo, The Brothers Hernandez creators of Love and Rockets, and Larry Gonick creator of the Cartoon History of the Universe. All of them had comics listed in the Comics Values Annual.

Also, I found some of the newer science fiction titles that are still affordable, Alien Worlds from 1982, Alien Encoutners printed between 1985-1987.

It was fun looking at the Comics Value Annual to see if there was anything which I might be interested in looking at. They even had a few humorous titles which I like Milk and Cheese, and Reid Fleming World's Toughest Milkman.

It was a nice day out so I didn't spend my whole day inside. I took a walk earlier for several blocks to stretch out my legs and also went to the produce market to buy some watermelon.

I went for another walk. It was a very nice day out. There was a parade through the neighborhood by the Catholic Church, today is Corpus Christi a day celebrated by the Italians in the neighborhood. It was a bit surprising to see a police car slowly wending through the neighborhood in front of the procession to clear the streets. I also saw one of the tiny little smart cars zipping through the neighborhood with a bald guy driving behind the wheel.

Tomorrow we will have the big parade on the main thoroughfare. The mayor was here on the last Memorial Day parade. It is kind of interesting watching the marching bands.

I spent a little bit of time fooling around with social networking. I am playing around with Twitter today. I am currently following six people on my twitter account. This is my account: . Apparently there is a search engine which searches members on twitter and adds a bunch of functionality to twitter, . I don't like having to download programs to my desktop so I am taking a pass. Sometimes, people go overboard with these things. A few minutes ago, I looked at a website called The Wall Tweet Journal, a blog about twitter. Apparently someone is turning on and off their lights using twitter...

Grow Your Money 101 Easy Tips To Plan, Save, and Invest-- Jonathan D. Pond, Review

Grow Your Money 101 Easy Tips to Plan, Save, and Invest by Jonathan D. Pond is an easy to follow investment advice book. The tips are understandable and seem to be common sense. I find myself agreeing with many of his statements.

For example, he says cars cost a lot of money and eat into a persons finances. One of the best ways to buy a car is to buy a vehicle that is four years old and keep it for at least four years. The only reason to buy a brand new car is if you plan to maintain it well and keep it for a very long time.

He claims that your number one investment is your career or business. If you have an hour to study investing in stocks or an hour to invest in improving your career, invest in your career, you will ultimately have more money to invest and save. He insists that you should take the time for any free courses you can get from your employer that create contacts and will allow you to move ahead.

I wish I could follow his advice on fixing minor leaks in a financial boat: bring your own coffee and muffin, bring your own lunch, eat at cheaper restaurants, don't buy lottery tickets, take public transit or carpool, and buy generic from your supermarket or drugstore. These make little differences that add up in the long run. I don't buy lottery tickets, buy generic, and take mass transit to work, so I am half way there.

I like the idea that "Getting Rich Is Rather Boring". Jonathan Pond insists you save and invest, and live below your means. This is the reverse process to keeping up with the Joneses.

He covers a lot of different financial situations that can arise, receiving a windfall, how to invest in retirement plans, what kind of debt is the best debt, and other topics. Financial instruments like stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, treasury notes, real estates, and mutual funds are described in clear distinctive often witty ways. Jonathan Pond focuses mainly on how to diversify your investments across a wide variety of sources safely.

This book is a steady, practical, easy to understand book with apparently solid advice. If you are interested in better basic financial management, this book is well worth reading. I have always found it easier to invest in stocks than save. Hopefully, I will take some advice myself and buy a few certificates of deposit.

I think the book grew out of the Channel 13 program in New York. This is a link to several short videos from the program.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Daily Thoughts

Betsy Ross, 13 Colonies Flag

It is memorial day weekend this morning. We are supposed to remember our fallen. One of my grandfathers taught mathematics to bomber pilots on the home front during World War II, the other was a merchant marine and went to fight in the Lincoln Brigade on the side of syndicalists in the Spanish civil war.

Anyways, I am looking at Grow Your Money, 101 Easy Tips To Plan, Save, and Invest by Jonathan D. Pond. The reason I picked up this book is that I saw Jonathan Pond on a pledge drive for the PBS Public Broadcasting Service. They were offering a free financial help book if you donated money to public television. I saw this while I was folding laundry at the laundromat. He looks and seems to be a practical man without a lot of fluff. I hope that his writing is as good as his speaking.

I went to my local library this morning. The computers were down. There was no internet access. I could not sign up to use the machines for an hour. We occassionally have the computers go down at our branch. The worst time for it to happen is in the afternoon when there are a lot of people. This is quite inconvenient. I walked around and looked at the books.

I checked out MBA In A Day Learn What You Would Learn At Top Tier Business Schools by Stevem Stralser, Ph.D.. I think it is a kind of funny title, because I could probably read the book in a single day, then review it in the next. I also checked out Viewpoints Critical Selected Stories by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.. I rather like L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s writing, especially his ecologically oriented science fiction.

Finally, I picked up Comics Values Annual 2007 by Alex G. Malloy. I don't think it is too accurate, but I occassionally find out about a few science fiction and fantasy titles which I never heard about or read when I look through the listings. I usually don't pay attention to the prices at all. At our library we have the Official Overstreet Comic Price Guide 2008 edition. Overstreet is the guide used in most comic book stores.

At Roger's Time Machine in Manhattan, New York when I used to go there, they priced a lot of the comics at half the Official Overstreet Comic Price Guide except for some of the Golden Age, or Silver Age comics which were often guide price and some of the very popular titles. Most of the underground comics were priced differently than guide. There is no current price guide for underground, ground level, and independent comics. They are irregularly covered in the Overstreet and Comics Value guide, but they do not have much depth.

The prices are all over the place for this kind of material. A lot of the material is rare or not understood. This is one of the reasons I collect ground level comics. I can often get very interesting material at very reasonable prices. People often keep this kind of material on the shelves of stores for a long time. Some people call them alternative comics. Basically it is smaller presses that bring their material in at "the ground level". Usually it is not underground, counterculture, or drug focused comics that I am interested in.

I often like unique titles like Alien Worlds, Alien Encounters, Berni Wrightson Master of the Macabre, Ms. Tree, Death Rattle, Vaughn Bode, Fantagor, and Usagi Yojimbo. Everyone has their own tastes.

I just finished watching the old fashioned cartoon version of Horton Hears A Who by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) and Chuck Jones. I really like the storytelling even if it is very nonsensical.

I also watched the Butter Battle Book produced by Ralph Bakshi and written by Dr. Seuss. At the time this cartoon was done, it was considered quite controversial. It is about escalation and mutual destruction. It was also done during the height of the cold war.

If you think Dr. Seuss only wrote children's books, you are wrong. There is an excellent book called Dr. Seuss goes to war : the World War II editorial cartoons of Theodor Geisel edited by Richard H. Minear. It is really interesting to look at.

Ralph Bakshi was also famous for doing one of my favorite films, Wizards. He also did the animated version of The Lord of the Rings. He was also famous for creating the first animated film to get an x rating, Fritz the Cat, based on the character created by Robert Crumb. A lot of his work is very controversial.

I thought I would add a quote I found while reading Grow Your Money by Jonathan Pond,

"There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge"-- Bertrand Russell

Steampunk Edited By Ann And Jeff Vandermeer

Part of a Babbage Engine from 1832, a form of mechanical computer that was never fully developed. Bruce Sterling posits a different future based on a secret society which developed this in his book, The Difference Engine.

Steampunk, Edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer is a collection of Victorian style science fiction. It includes a few excerpts from larger novels including a chapter from The Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock.

Some of the short stories are quite entertaining. One of my favorites is The Selene Gardening Society about a group of Victorian ladies shooting garbage to the moon. Another story I found fascinating was the 72 Letters about a society that used golems for industrial purposes. The main character designed and built golems. The story, The Martian Agent by Michael Chabon was about a pair of the sons of a confederate soldier escaping to England on a zeppelin.

The author selection was quite good including; James, Blaylock, Michael Moorcock, Rachel Pollack and others.

I could find little objectionable in the stories, except for the story Victoria about Queen Victoria acting as a courtesan for a while to further her education. It was a bit baudy and filled with an offbeat sense of humor.

There are two essays at the end of the book; The Steam Driven Time Machine: A Pop Culture Survey lists a variety of steampunk movies, novels, and television shows and the essay The Essential Sequential Steampunk A Modest Survey of the Genre within the Comic Book Medium lists a variety of graphic novels that are steampunk.

This was a satisfying collection. I found the last two essays to be quite interesting. The editing in this collection was quite clean. I have to congratulate Tachyone Publications on producing a very interesting collection.

There is a brief biographical summary of each author in the collection at the back of the book.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Morning Thoughts

I was looking on Facebook and I came across something rather interesting. It is a newswire for librarians. It is basically a large collection of press releases from libraries and library companies. I think it is fairly new. . I rather like the idea of it. It still needs a lot more coverage.

My day should be interesting today. Yesterday, I got to the subway and it was so packed that I could not get a seat. I had to stand all the way in. It is quite hard to read standing up. Hopefully, if I leave a few minutes earlier, I will get a seat today and be able to read on the subway. It was like being in a can of sardines. So many more people are taking the subway as gas prices are climbing much higher.

I work an hour earlier on Fridays. Today, it was a much nicer ride on the subway, peaceful compared to yesterday. I got to read some more of Steampunk. I enjoyed reading a kind of odd story by Joe Lansdale, The Steam Man of the Prairie and The Dark Rider which combines steampunk with westerns. It has all sorts of odd things in it, morlocks, a vampire, a steam man, and a few other odd surprises. Joe Lansdale is an author who I really enjoy reading. He writes, western horror, mysteries, steampunk, and graphic novels.
He has a myspace fanpage which lists his films and books. It is kind of entertaning.

I looked through the New York Times Bestseller list which we have as part of our library catalog and placed Bad money : reckless finance, failed politics, and the global crisis of American capitalism by Kevin Phillips on hold.

It is the afternoon. This morning, I went around checking for books with minor damage, torn covers, peeling spine labels, and other minor damage to be repaired in the reference area. The reference books are fairly clean right now. The shelving is in good order and looks neat.

Thinking back to steampunk, one of my favorite graphic novels is The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill. I think the storytelling is fantastic. It is set in alternate British Victoria populated with many of the genre favorites of old, Captain Nemo, Mina Harker, The Invisible Man, Allan Qatermain and others. The first volume deals with formation of the league and a battle between Fu Manchu and Professor Moriarty in London. The second volume in the series is even more outrageous. The league fights the invading martians who are like the martians from War of the Worlds. There is brief appearance by John Carter and Gulliver Jones on an alternate mars.

There is supposed to be a third volume in the series which hasn't come out yet. They did an interim story, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Black Dossier but none of our libraries purchased it. I am not going to shell out my own money to buy this. Maybe, I will get it eventually, I am not in a hurry.

I was looking at various blogs when I came across an interesting story at the OUP Blog about a gentleman living in a tiny apartment in Manhattan and plastering the floors and walls with pages from a dictionary. It looked interesting enough for me to mention it in my blog. I really enjoyed the story.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Common Wealth Economics For Crowded Planet-- Jeffrey D. Sachs, Review

Common Wealth Economics For A Crowded Planet by Jeffrey D. Sachs is about how to address pressing common human global problems: global environmental issues, population planning, sustainable development, and persistent poverty. It is written in very clear, understandable language. There is no academic jargon here. These issues will affect everyone rich and poor alike.

If we do not address these issues at the source, our security is threatened. For example, the crisis in Ethopia and Sudan can be traced back to lack of water, arable land, and overpopulation. This pushes people into warfare and conflict over very limited resources.

Human beings are now the major cause for environmental change: desertification, global warming, species loss, and industrial pollution are caused by human beings. Jeffrey Sachs sets down a set of specific goals on how to reach these ends.

The problem here is that he couches the goals in the language of the left and the language of the United Nations which can be disconcerting at times. Jeffrey Sachs has worked with United Nations Millenium Project. His language is very much focused on international peace and diplomacy. He wants to considerably reduce global armaments and put the money into peaceful development.

This is quite idealistic. One of the advantages of this approach is that it is a soft power approach, based on diplomacy, development, culture, and superior technical knowledge something which the United States has not followed at all in recent years. He claims that if we do not address these issues we will have more terrorists, more wars, more underdevelopment, and more conflict.

The problem is one of how to balance the need to change underlying problems and still at the same time deal with the issues of terrorism and security.

There is going to be quite a bit of opposition to his ideas from the right as well. He pushes for a combination of family planning and pre-natal care. This is to reduce population pressure and encourage people to have less children. This will be hard to fund because many lobbyists do work against birth control.

I happen to think that his ideas on development are quite interesting. He puts forth the idea that government, society, and business are inseperable. In order for business to move forward infrastructure like roads, schools, and telecommunications need to be built. It is as important to make sure there is an adquate food supply as there are free market reforms.

At the end of many of the chapters, he gives examples on how to address specific problems that are fairly practical. For example in the section on climate change he endorses carbon sequestration and hybrid cars. For persistent poverty, he claims that people should drill wells in communities, open schools, introduce school lunch programs provided by indigenous farmers, distribute new seed stocks, distribute new breeds of livestock, and remove any leftover ordnance from old wars in the countryside.

If you strip away a lot of the political talk, this book gives quite a few good examples on how to address common human problems. I think it is worth reading for the solutions described, not the politics.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on the Millenium Development Goals.

This book is well written and easy to follow. It has notes, a bibliography, and an index. There are eight pages of full color illustrations. I would have liked more illustrations in this book.

Readers Advisory

One of the things which I am supposed to do is advise people on what to read. For me, it is easy to recommend science fiction and fantasy, as well as some novels and books on the alternative energy. I also take the time to sometimes read things I don't like. I am not a fan of urban fiction, yet I tried to read Eric Jerome Dickey (I didn't like it), and Omar Tyree (I liked it).

When I started at my first job in Brooklyn, one of my first jobs was to read and discuss a list of books with other librarians. This was a sample of the most popular books including the classics, trashy novels, true crime, romance, and mysteries. It was an enlightening experience. I did not like reading much of the material, but I did it anyways. I would have never read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote if it hadn't been a book I was told to read.

I also admit, because of this, I have read romance novels (Elizabeth Lowell is one of my favorite authors), Westerns ( Louis L'Amour is my favorite western writer), and a variety of genres which I would have never read.

One of the things I do all the time is watch what people are checking out. This is a way to not have to read everything. People tend to read a specific genre, even if I haven't read the books, after a while, I begin to recognize the popular titles in a genre. For example, in urban fiction, I recognize Zane, Noire, Relentless Aaron, Michael Baisden, Terri Woods, even if I haven't read any of them. People ask for the same style of books over and over again.

In a similar manner, I also look at the new books when they come in. It gives me an idea of what is available immediately for people to check out. I check every other day to see what is on the shelf. Occassionally, I will also look at the books which have just been returned for the same reason.

In addition to keep up with what people are reading, I look at the New York Times Bestseller List and the Publishers Weekly Bestseller list. This is important. A lot of people are constantly looking for the latest bestsellers. Sometimes, I can even preempt the bestseller list figuring out which books might appear on the bestseller lists.

Books are advertised everywhere. There are numerous advertisements on the subways and buses if you go on mass transit. I have even seen a few billboards on the highways with book titles.

Another tool which we keep for readers advisory are bookmarks and sheets recommending specific genres. We have bookmarks for art books, mysteries, reference books, business books, and urban fiction. We also a full page list of African American authors. This way we can give readers a standard selection of items to look at.

Each type of genre fiction also has a trade publication attached to it if you want to keep up with a specific type of book. Romantic Times is the trade magazine for romance books, Locus Magazine is the trade magazine for Science Fiction and Fantasy. Also some ethnic or racially oriented magazines have bestseller lists. There is an Ebony bestseller list for African American books.

In addition, some publishers have imprints which are quite popular. There are the BET black romances, Arabesque Romances, Harlequin Romances, and The Hardcase Crime Series. Being aware of which imprints a person likes makes it much easier to find books. Usually there is a small symbol attached to the publishers imprint. Baens symbol is a rocket ship on the spine with the word Baen across the rocketship.

Also some publishers focus on a specific subject. For example, if I want a good travel series, I might look at Lonely Planet, or Frommers. If I wanted military science fiction, I would probably look at Baen Books.

In addition to imprints there are series which people will read, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Star Wars, Star Trek, Nancy Drew, R.L. Stine is practically his own imprint, Goosebumps, and others. The latest series which looks like it will be popular is the CSI (Crime Science Investigation) television series has come out with a series of paperbacks.

Paying attention to what people want to read is a decent part of my job and any librarians job. A few inexpensive trade paperbacks which include short annotated recommendations for genre fiction are The 100 Best Graphic Novels, Horror: Another 100 Best Books, Science Fiction The 100 Best Novels, Fantasy The 100 Best Novels, and The Crown Crime Companion, The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time. They may not be the most recent books, but they should contain at least a few book recommendations worth reading.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thoughts For The Day

A Victorian era Penny Dreadful. Precursor to the idea for modern steampunk.

Today has been quite slow. I have been more revising of the reference area. I went into the storage stacks and did some checking of the old reference books for items to discard. I also took someone's reference desk shifts because they called out with some personal thing or other.

I am almost done reading Common Wealth, Economics for a Crowded Planet. It will take me a while to put together a review for the book. There is a lot to comment on.

Steampunk edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer is finished processing so I can take it out. There are a lot of really good science fiction short story authors, Neal Stephenson, Joe R. Lansdale, Michael Moorcock, and Mary Gentle are among the authors contributing short stories. There are even a few bibliographies of recommended works.

I can say my favorite steampunk story is not a book, but a rather interesting graphic novel called The Adventures of Luther Arkwright written by Bryan Talbot. It is an apocalyptic science fiction stories written in a parallel universe in the New Wave style. The story even has its own Wikipedia entry:
This is a wild adventure story written in a style reminiscent of Michael Moorcock at his best.

Goblin Quest and Goblin Hero by Jim C. Hines came in and were added to the young adult fantasy collection.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Todays Thoughts

I started reading Common Wealth Economics For A Crowded Planet. So far it focuses on four major issues, sustainable global economic development, common worldwide environmental problems like carbon emissions, drylands conflicts, and overfishing, population issues, and worldwide poverty traps. It is an interesting book focused on a left of center view of international issues. The author provides a lot of statistics and quotes a lot of science. It is not just a book that is purely political statements.

The labeling of books on the atlas stand was finished this morning. I also have started looking at books in the reference storage stacks to see if any of them can be discarded.

We are opening an account with Bookazine to order material. Previously we were only focused on Baker & Taylor for ordering. When I worked in Brooklyn, we used to order a lot of our mass market paperbacks from Bookazine. I think Bookazine does a slightly better job for mass market paperbacks than Baker & Taylor.

I was reading the Daily News, May 20 newspaper at the local greasy spoon diner. I had a turkey burger, a cup of minestrone soup, and a glass of water for lunch.

This time the paper surprised me. There was an article on the Tesla roadster, the all electric sportscar that can go up 125 miles per hour and has a range of 225 miles. This was on page BW 34. Also, there was an article on the Hunts Point green market. Apparently 25% to 50% of the pollution comes from idling big rig diesel trucks in the area. They are requesting business proposals to put in biodiesel or ethanol pumps. This was on page BW 4. For me, this is encouraging. I am a fan of renewable energy and transportation. It is nice to see these kind of articles in a major local paper.

The new books came in. I like looking at the unprocessed books. It annoys the technical service person sometimes. A bunch of GED books and a few ASVAB books came in which I had ordered. These still need to have security stickers, labels, and covers put on. Also, the book, Steampunk, Edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer came in. I am hoping to read it soon.

I rather like steampunk because it allows the writer to pastiche many of the characters from the classic science fiction books, John Carter, Captain Nemo, Mina, Queequeeg (not a science character) into their stories.

Sometimes when you are wandering in the land of social networking you find images and pictures which are quite entertaining. This is a link to a gallery of images called the Most Interesting Bookstores in the World. The images are quite striking.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Thoughts For Today, Conferences And Expos

The Puck Building Where the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MOCCA) Art Festival will be held.

Two books came in for me today, Steve Resnick Tem and Melanie Tem, The Man on the Ceiling. The Man on the Ceiling is a novel based on the World Fantasy Award winning Novella of the same title. I hope it is interesting. The other book that came in for me to read today is Jeffrey D. Sachs, Common Wealth, Economics For A Crowded Planet. It was on the bestseller list.

I saw two titles that seemed rather interesting to me that the library does not have. The first is The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. It is a series of novellas set in a Polish fantasyland. It was very popular in Poland. The novel is the basis for the computer roleplaying game, The Witcher. The story is about a person who hunts monsters. I am hoping this will be a little bit different than the run of the mill fantasy stories. My understanding is that it is not written for children, it is a fairly mature story.

The other title was Cash & Carry by Tim Broderick. It is a noire graphic novel. I think it is still advertised in my Project Wonderful adspace. He is getting a bargain 4 cents a day for an ad on a website.

I was fooling around with more social networking software and I came across a rather interesting social networking site called, Upcoming, . It is a social networking site that functions as an event listing service. The events listed reminded me of the dot com boom. It was like the dotcommies were coming out of the word work. You sometimes wonder where they are hiding.

The listings seemed to be somewhat similar to the type of thing you might see on Bernardo's List . I find Bernardo's List to be quite entertaining and somewhat odd. It is fun to read even if you don't go to the events.

It seems that if I really wanted to I could go on a flashback trip to the dotcom boom with its weirdly titled companies and excessive venture capital. The first week of June in New York is Internet Week. I feel like I could stand around drink beer, and have nachos in the staff lounge while watching foosball at an odd little company. There is something seriously nostalgic about this series of events. I haven't decided whether I want to try any of them out yet.

I feel the call of tech howling in the wind. There are a few other events which I am in the shadow of. Next Week on May 30, 2008, they are holding Enterprise Search Engine Summit. I really do like search engines. But, it costs over a thousand dollars to attend this thing. I am not even sure where I would fit in with this crowd. It has that vague feeling of somehow being mildly attached to librarianship in an outre fashion.

There are so many fascinating and odd conferences floating around New York. If you haven't found out by now, I rather like conferences and expo. I find them to be quite entertaining. There is also the Linked Data Planet Expo at the Roosevelt Hotel on June 17 and 18th. In an odd way, again, I can claim this is vaguely related to librarianship, they are after all talking about metadata, searching for things, and linking data.

Finally, there is another conference that looks rather confusing but might be entertaining, The Media Bistro Circus. I am not sure how I could justify this to my boss. Look, I am going to the circus, it doesn't have any elephants but it has plenty of clowns. Chris Andersen, Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine will be there. I think it looks like something I can somehow relate to librarianship. They are after all talking about how traditional media meets the new media. It is even at the Skylight Studio, tomorrow May 20 and May 21.
The event costs $545 which is more than the price of a cup of coffee in New York.

New York is just a happening place, but all these things cost money and time which I don't have a whole lot of right now. Instead I am probably going to spend my $10 entrance fee and go to the MOCCA Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Art Festival in the Puck Building on June 7. Something which is affordable and just in my price range. Internet Week might also have something in the mish mash, it is also free. Maybe someone can get me a volunteer pass for the Media Bistro Circus or let me help out at a booth. But, I doubt it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Social Networking Tinkering

I spent a little bit of time tinkering with social networking materials. I went to the site and added a button to share my posts and share my blog with the various social networking sites.

I also joined Twitter. I am not quite sure why I did this, but it seemed interesting, but fairly ineffective. I also tinkered with the different functions on blogcatalog so Facebook was a recognized function of my blogcatalog listings. This is mostly fooling around with different functions. It is very easy to waste a lot of time doing these various things.

Now, I am a little more networked into the social sites. It should be interesting to see if it makes any difference in total blog traffic.

Information Overload (An Essay, A Rant, A Stream of Consciousness Post)

Faced with information overload, we have no alternative but pattern recognition. -Marshall McLuhan

Today, I am not going to do any reading of books. At points, I run into information overload where I simply have been reading too much. My brain gets full and sometimes it gives me insomnia. Then I have to take a day off from reading.

This does not happen too often. One way which I deal with information overload is to do mnemonic exercises. Things like taking a few minutes everyday to sit and memorize the contents of a single room in detail. Or memorizing childrens rhymes. I have a fondness for Mother Goose. It helps when you are constantly bombarded by an endless stream of unfiltered information.

Plus, none of my holds came in yesterday for me to read. I have no stacks of books waiting for me. I am not particularly fond of reading magazines. In a way, I think reading magazines and newspapers is not the same as reading books. The information comes in little bites.

I spend a lot of time going through masses of information on my job. Skimming through masses of reviews of books to see which one I can then focus on and read in detail. Most things really are not worth reading. A good example of this is the old clipping file for newspapers. You end up throwing away the majority of the newspaper and putting in a very few articles which may be of importance to the community. The rest is filler. I think this is true of most newspapers and magazines.

I think really good concentration is important in my job as well as the ability to speed read. It helps if you are really strong willed, or do activities which require a lot of detailed focus like knitting, crossword puzzles, sewing, or collect very detailed things like stamps, coins, or comic books. Good concentration also helps you filter out the constant bombardment of useless information on the internet as well. Speed reading teaches you how to scan for relevance and choose those things which are important.

If you sit at a screen all day, you also need a certain amount of emotional detachment to the things which they are trying to sell you. The internet is based on getting attention. It is filled with all kinds of nastiness designed to catch your attention, pornography, hate spewing politics, and thinly veiled scatalogical advertisements. If you give too much credence to these things it can create a state of information overload.

A problem which I run into is that many people don't consider reading work. The first thing which comes into their minds is that person is reading, they must not be doing anything. We read to select what you will read. A lot of it is not pleasurable. We have to select a lot of things which we do not like personally, because it is what our patrons want.

Also some people consider looking up things not to be work. They want hard physical evidence of work. Papers, statistics, cleaned floors, and other concrete things. They have a hard time picturing the idea that your helping someone find a book is a job, or your looking up a specific piece of information for them is significant. Service is a very abstract concept. There are not a whole lot of physical results for librarians.

Information overload is further compounded by what I now call "Media Soup." We no longer need to just know books, we need to know all kinds of media. The library is a media center not a book depository. Some of the audiovisual formats which we have to handle are audiobooks, cd audiobooks, playaway audiobooks, vhs videos, DVC-- Descriptive Video Casettes, DVDs, computer game cartridges, cd-roms, and music cds. This is further compounded by the need to purchase literacy and foreign language materials.

In print we have magazines, newspapapers, annual reports, newsletters, government documents, pamphlets, fliers, books of all sizes (mass market paperback, trade paperbacks, clothbound, folio, quarto), graphic novels, music scores, maps, and various ephemera.

Added to this is online information in the traditional formats, the internet, periodical databases, and pay databases like Westlaw (we have this). Now this has expanded explosively in the last year. Now librarians have blogs, myspace pages, vlogs, and are attempting to understand social networking.

This creates an upside down topsy turvy, information saturated environment. The variety is such that it becomes quite difficult to manage even a small portion of the variety of formats. Some of the formats even have special internal formats, books are available as large print books. Add in subject specialties and age groups like business, job information center, law, young adult, adult, childrens, and senior and you get a big boiling soup pot of information.

It becomes very easy to get confused in a public library. Libraries have not reorganized to meet the needs of the different formats that well. Librarianship is a very traditional profession. Right now, there has been quite a bit of foment in the profession.

Some claim that the librarians are broken, others claim that the libraries are broken. It is a kind of jumble where people are listening to the librarians who have the best jargon to explain what is happening, not necessarily the steady even handed people who can plan a straight course. Being patient in a sea of information is hard.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Friends of the Library Bake Sale, Thoughts

Today and yesterday are the Book & Bake Sale for the library. This is run by the Friends of the Library. One of our retired librarians runs the book and bake sale. None of the currently employed librarians are supposed to work in the book sale because it would create a conflict of interest between the freinds which is a separate nonprofit entity and the library.

Currently working librarians are not supposed to be selling books on library property. Patrons would ask us whether we are selling our books if we sold the books in the book sale. Almost daily, we get the question do you sell your books here, can I buy this?

Our answer is no we don't sell the books. There is a good reason for this. People might deface property hoping that we might sell it. They might also try and claim they can buy the new books because we sell books. This happens anyways.

One of the reasons we get this question so much is that there is no big bookstore in our community. There is a small christian bookstore. Also, there is no comic book shop in our community. I think this is becoming more common in many communities.

Small bookstores are closing. Also Amazon, Ebay, and ABE (Advanced Book Exchange) are eating up a lot of the book market which would go to the smaller bookstores. You can order your book from home. With a search engine like you can search dozens of stores to find the title of a used book which you want.

The publishing industry seems oblivious to this change. I try and approach them to get authors to come to our library for events. They ask us to partner with the nonexistent local bookstore. On free comic book day, I was asked to partner with a nonexistent comic book shop. It can be frustrating at times.

I went downstairs a couple of times to wander through the tables of books. They were holding the bookfair in the community room. There were tables of old hardcovers and paperbacks which people were going through. I did not find a huge amount which I wanted. I found a copy of The Adventures of Cavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon which won the Pulitzer Prize for literature. I was going to buy it, but I decided instead to give it to another person who seemed interested in the title. I can always order a copy of it. There was also a stack of old star trek fan guides which were kind of interesting.

I bought my obligatory brownies and cup of coffee from the bake sale table and stood around for a few minutes talking to the older ladies running the sale. Hopefully, the bake sale will generate some funds for a few minor improvements. The Friends of the Library funds a decent amount of our library programming.

Then I went to lunch. There was a local politician who was at the diner where I sometimes go to lunch. He works for the local housing coalition and is on the Board of Ethics for the city. I said hello and suggested he might want to go to the booksale. He has wanted to meet The Friends of the Library for a while.


I was looking at and I saw a very interesting looking book, The Library At Night by Alberto Manguel. None of our libraries had it yet. I put in a request for it to be ordered. I rather like reading about libraries and bookstores.

In the coming weeks, I am going to also look for a book on how to write sonnets.

The New Weird-- Ann & Jeff Vandermeer Editors, Review

Jeff Vandermeer's Cluttered Office

The New Weird is a collection of short stories and essays edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer. All of the essays are on the concept of the "New Weird." The book claims to be about a new genre of writing weird stories. I like to think of it as a style of writing in science fiction and fantasy. Most of the stories have a baroque, almost excessively detailed style of writing. Some of the best writing in this style occurs in cities that are a cross between a hallucinogenic dream and an odd mix of magic and technology. Places like M. John Harrison's Viriconium, Jeff Vandermeer's Ambergris, or China Mieville's Perdito Street.

I read anthologies to find new writers. I found a few writers which I had not read before. I enjoyed reading the Jeffrey Thomas story, Immolation and I thought the chase story by Steph Swainston, The Ride of The Gabbleratchet was superb. Her description of the vermiform creature in the story was fantastic.

There were a number of truly excellent established writers in the collection: Michael Moorcock, China Mieville, M. John Harrison, Kathe Koja, and Clive Barker. The stories written by these authors all had unique twists at the ends and interesting settings.

The last part of this anthology was a series of essays on what "The New Weird" was. This was mildly entertaining. It was at least partly a marketing effort to establish a following for the newly revamped Weird Tales Magazine who Ann Vandermeer is the editor of. I think it is too early in the attempt to create a literary movement to give a definitive answer.

A few of the stories were misses for me. This is true of most short story collections. One of the nice things about short story collections is that you can skip over the places you don't like. I did not particularly like the short story, The Lizard of Ooze. I thought the story The Gutter Sees The Light That Never Shines by Alastair Rennie had some very adult content in it. However, the story was still quite fascinating, even if it was a bit bloody, sexy, and scatological.

The back of the anthology had short one paragraph summaries on each of the writers in the book. There was some quite interesting writing in this short story collection. If you are looking for something different or unique to read in science fiction or fantasy, you might want to try out a few of the stories in this collection.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Afternoon Thoughts

Sterling Memorial Library Stocks, Yale (Public Domain Image)
I got this from

One of my reserves came in today, The New Weird edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer. It is a short story collection of science fiction and fantasy in the tradition of Weird Tales. Ann Vandermeer is an editor for the newly reborn Weird Tales Magazine. It should give me a few new authors to look at.

Today has been a very slow day. Mostly, what I am doing is figuring out detail work to make my area more organized. I am going to have all the atlases in the atlas stand labeled ATLAS so they are not put on the regular shelves. I am also going to go through and check all of the multicultural and job information center books to make sure they are all properly labelled. I am tightening up the collection.

I have also been selecting books for discard. Someone always double checks the books to be discarded to make sure we don't make mistakes.

I am also looking over the books that came in to make sure they are labelled properly for reference before they go on the shelves.

The other thing I have been doing is placing new pocket parts in the law books and discarding the old ones. Today is my day to be particularly uptight. Go over the details to appear that I am doing my work properly.

Yesterday, my library aide went through and straightened all the books on the shelves, three to five inches space at the end of each shelf, spine visible on the shelf and each book a half inch in from the edge. Check to see that the books are not too tightly packed together, this splits the spine of the book.

Make sure all the bookends have cork on the bottom so they don't slip. (This is of course the ideal, it never is quite this way.) Double chcek to make sure that everything is in dewey decimal order. Make sure there are no books left lying around.

It reminds me of the librarians nightmare. In college someone once told me he would love to push the stacks over sideways so they crashed into each other like dominos falling sideways one after another. He would run through the library pushing over the stacks, then knocking all the books on the floor.

Sometimes the kids or teenagers like to push the books all the way to the back of the shelves. Or they like to run through the library knocking books on the floor. For awhile, where I work now, they used to have gangs that would run through the library and knock books on the floor. They don't have this anymore. Maybe it is just one of those library myths.

Once while I was in California, while I was working as a library aide in four year college, they had an earthquake at the main library. We spent a day wandering around picking up books off the floors and putting them on shelving carts. While we were picking the books up off the floors, other people were straightening out the shelves so we could start putting the books back on the shelves. On the second day, we started putting the books back on the shelves. We got overtime for three days. We worked for ten hours each day to get the library back in shape.

I also worked part-time as a library assistant at University of Pittsburgh in library school. The stacks have a very different feel to them. We had condensed rolling stacks for the government documents on tracks. You would turn a wheel and the whole stack would move creating an opening so you could walk down the aisle. I sometimes worried that I might get crushed. But, they had automatic sensors so you wouldn't get caught while the stacks were being rolled close. Government documents are mind numbing things. They assigned me to do this. I also answered reference questions at the main desk. So, in a way, I started as a reference librarian and I am still one.

Maps And Legends Reading And Writing Along The Borderlands-- Michael Chabon-- Review

Maps And Legends Readings And Writings Along The Borderlands by Michael Chabon is a collection of essays. An interesting thing about this collection is that the proceeds from the book go to a nonprofit literacy organization; I think this frees the author from commercial constraints. He is also using McSweeney's an avant garde publisher. This combination allows him to have free reign with his opinions making for some very interesting writing. I enjoyed both the style and substance presented in this collection.

Michael Chabon is writing about the borders between serious literature and popular culture. For example, he describes how Cormac McCarthy's The Road remains literature despite being written as post apocalyptic science fiction in his essay, Dark Adventure: On Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Similarly, the borders are touched on in On Fan Fiction: Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyles ambivalence about writing about the great detective is explored.

The origins of his bestselling, The Yiddish Policemen's Union comes from a traveller's phrasebook How To Say It In Yiddish. The essay Imaginary Homelands describes this process. He angered a number of people when he wrote about How To Say It In Yiddish in the periodical Civilization. This gave rise to thoughts on the urge to form a Jewish homeland and led him to write his story about a Yiddish homeland in Alaska.

Thoughts on the Death of Will Eisner, Kids' Stuff, The Killer Hook Howard Chaykin's American Flagg are all essays about graphic novels. Michael Chabon is talking about the maturation of the graphic novel as an art form. The Death of Will Eisner is a eulogy to both Will Eisner's art and his business acumen. Kids' Stuff describes how graphic novels have become an acceptable art form and at the same time have had an incredible drop in readership. The essay on American Flagg is about how Howard Chaykin turns graphic novels into works of pop art.

The writing in this collection is open and free flowing. It touches on a wide variety of subjects. All in a way are somewhat autobiographical. Michael Chabon became a writer partially because of his interests in old maps and legends. He criticisms numerous other writers in this collection including Philip Pullman, M.R. James, and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Part of the essays are autobiographical. He talks about his origins as a writer in Diving Into The Wreck. His last essay is entitled Golem's I Have Known, or Why My Elder Son's Middle Name Is Napoleon A Trickster's memoir. This essay touches on the idea of the golem, both as a story and a spiritual metaphor for deeper understanding.

I have not listed and described all of the essays in this collection. They are all unique with varying perspectives on writing, genre fiction, graphic novels and literature. I think the writer was enjoying himself when he wrote this book. There are a few single page illustrations, a daily strip of Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, and a single panel from Howard Chaykin's American Flagg. These essays are well worth reading especially if you like genre fiction and graphic novels.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Afternoon Meanderings.

I finished reading Michael Chabon's Maps And Legends Reading And Writing Along the Borderlands. During lunch, I started working on a review of this book. It is halfway done. I had a salad with chicken today, no carbs.

This morning, I read some more review material, the New York Times Book Review, and the latest Library Journal in print. I placed another book on hold. Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey D. Sachs. It was on this weeks New York Times bestsellers for business books. It was also reviewed nicely in the May 18, 2008 New York Times Book Review.

I didn't see anything else worth looking at this morning. I have been working on getting publicity done for a SCORE-- Service Corps of Retired Executives small business workshop on marketing on May 28, 2008. I look forward to having this done here. I am not against business. Many people simply don't fit into the large business or government mindset. They really need to work for themselves. I have nothing against small business.

When I was younger and had more time, I used to go out and pick comic books and genre fiction from yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores and other places. I would trade them in for other comic books. Eventually, it got to the point where the the stores which I traded with would let me price the old paperbacks, ace doubles, conan paperbacks, gold key paperbacks, and others.

I would also price some of the hardcover genre fiction sometimes as well. It got to the point where I had a huge collection of old science fiction and fantasy. I sold most of it to help pay for my wedding later, but that is another story. I still have four long boxes of what would be called, "ground level" comic books. Titles like Hot Stuff, Den, Quack, Cobalt 60, Alter Ego, and The First Kingdom.

Unfortunately, most of the science fiction bookstores are long dead in Manhattan. The only one still standing is Forbidden Planet. The last time I was there, they had a single bookshelf of science fiction. Now they sell mostly art books, manga, graphic novels, and comic books. The younger clientele has changed. In the back, you can also get video games.

I've also done small jobs here and there doing research online for people on occassion. It really is not hard to moonlight on the side. A sole propietorship requires you to register yourself with the county you are doing business in for a small fee. In Westchester County you pick up the forms from the county clerk have them notarized and pay $35 to have them processed. It is another $4.00 for the notarization. Once this is done you are in business as a sole propietor.

I am also working on arranging for a person to come in and do an estate planning workshop. It should be interesting.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nightly Thoughts

Article 19. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, United Nations
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

I started reading Michael Chabon's Maps And Legends Readings And Writing Along The Borderland. It is a collection of essays. The typeface and the paper is very nice. Something which has bothered me lately is that in the description of the book it is not required to give the typeface which the book is printed in. This is somewhat discouraging. Knowing about nice quality fonts is something which librarians and writers like. It is a detail which I think should be included in any book. The paper also appears to be better quality than normal. I also like to know what kind of paper a book is printed on. I know, I know, I am more fussy about these things than most people, but still it is a good thing to know.

I also checked my sidebar on my blog to see if the links were working correctly. You have to do this sometimes. For unknown reasons pieces of your blog can suddenly stop working. I had to put in a few of my links again to get them to work.

I also added a red widget in my sidebar, Bloggers Unite For Human Rights. I am supposed to write an essay on a topic on human rights. I am not sure whether I will do this. I just liked the widget, plus I rather like the concept of human rights. I am rather funny that way. I am a member of the Intellectural Freedom Roundtable of the American Library Association. I am also a member of the The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. In other words, I am a defender of the written word. I do strongly believe in the right for people to express themselves like I am expressing myself now.

I am writing free form at this moment. There are too many libraries that are destroyed in senseless conflicts whether they be budgetary conflicts or the conflicts of war. With the recession in the United States many libraries are only open limited hours because people think of them as being a non-essential service, unlike services like the fire and police department. I think it is essential to preserve reading and visual literacy.

One of the first things to go in conflicts especially ethnic conflicts are libraries. Cultural identity is preserved in the libraries and museums of a country. In Iraq, libraries were looted and burned during the conflict. In Bangladesh libraries were looted and burned during ethnic conflicts. When a dictatorship moves freshly into a country, the first places that gets closed are the libraries and universities.

Tolerance for intellectual freedom is a sign of an open democracy. There were periods in the United States where people were not so tolerant. During the 1950s they had a brief craze where people burned comic books. You could watch batman go up in smoke for being homoerotic, or superman go up in smoke because he was fascistic.

Anyways, to make it short, I support the idea of intellectual freedom everywhere. I want people to have different opinions than my own. This is a cornerstone of freedom. I hope you take a moment to ponder this. Not everyone can think as they want to, or express themselves as they want to.

In many countries were I born there and expressing my feelings openly on intellectual matters, I would be sent to places for people like me. I might work in a prison making shirts, or be out in the fields learning how to be a proper farmer not an intellectual. I would bide my time reciting poetry or stories in my mind surrounded by long hours of boredom punctuated by careful watching of my captors.

I hope one day people will wake up enough to let artists be artists and let culture and free expression be the norm all over the world.

Morning Haiku

Basho By Hokusai (Public Domain Image)

mirrored pool of water
a stone drops quickly downward
round rings wave outward

full clear windy blue sky
seagull spreads white wings wide
dot in the distance

wind blows
cool gentle
spring kiss

These are my first attempts as I understand it. The first two are 5 syllable, 7 syllable, 5 syllable style poems which is the way most westerners approximate haiku. The other is an attempt to get the feeling of a seasonal effect. I am not sure if this is correct at all. I am about halfway through The Haiku Handbook. It has been interesting so far.

I finished reading The Haiku Handbook while I was sitting on the train. I attempted a few more on the way in.

windmills bloom flowers
their blades spinning in the breeze
air becoming electric

paddling in a boat
swimming in a wide river
cool breeze over water

sweet honey and lemon tea
pours down throat liquid golden
warmth in the morning

The Haiku Handbook makes me want to read Basho's Narrow Roads to the Interior. I enjoyed reading it. Maybe it helped me write something worth reading.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Few Thoughts

In the morning, on the train, I read The Twelve Kingdoms Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono. The copy I read was an uncorrected proof. This was a wonderful story about a girl transported to a mythical chinese fairytale land consisting of twelve kingdoms. There she acquires the spirit of a warrior, fights demons, and goes through a variety of hardships; getting her money stolen, almost being sold to a brothel, almost being captured by the local magistrates, and wandering the roads near starving. The characterization is wonderful.

I rather like the character Rakashun who spends part of his time as a rat person, and part of his time as a human. There are wonderful fairytales elements like people being born from fruits, and each kingdom having a god king. I am not giving this book a full review because it is an uncorrected proof and I am not supposed to. I am however suggesting that the book be purchased for our young adult collection.

The cover on the finished book is slightly different than the cover on the uncorrected proof. I also think, some of the content will be different, so if I quote things in the book, I will make a mistake. There are two page spread manga style black and white illustrations throughout the book.

Over 15 million copies of this book have been sold worldwide. It is part of a 7 volume series. Tokypop, the publisher mainly sells manga. So, this is a slightly different thing for them to do.

When I got in to work, two books were waiting for me. Michael Chabon's Maps And Legends Reading and Writing Along the Borderland. The dust jacket is very nicely designed, it is three sections of layered images. I really like it a lot. However, it does not completely cover the whole book which some people may not like. The cover art is by Jordan Crane. Jordane Crane has some pretty interesting looking art.

The other book that came in for me is The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks. The Algebraist was nominated for the Hugo award. I am looking forward to reading both of these books.

I have been trying to figure out what the Second Life Library is all about. I took a look at the Info Island blog which explains events related to libraries in second life.
I also looked at the various Youtube videos on second life libraries. There are a lot of them. Quite frankly, I have always found virtual worlds to be rather odd. Putting a library staffed by librarians in a virtual world is somewhat perplexing. I find the idea of stepping into second life, a virtual world, to visit a library quite frankly mildly scary. I wonder if it will be like World of Warcraft for librarians.

It seems that everything is changing really, really fast with library technology. We are getting the same treatment in libraries as the web is with web 2.0. Now there is the concept of library 2.0 which is a very vague technocentric ideal. I am a concrete person. I prefer to touch and feel what I am reading.

I have started reading The Haiku Handbook How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku by William J. Higginson with Penny Harter. This book appears to be an in depth overview of Haiku. I was hoping to pick up a book so I could learn the basic form of Haiku and write a few Haiku for the next poetry open microphone. The book has started with Japanese masters of Haiku. I am going to read it on the train home.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Complete Idiots Guide To Socially Responsible Investing-- Ken Little Review

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Socially Responsible Investing Put Your Money Where Your Values Are, Penguin USA, c2008 is a very basic guide to socially responsible investing. Each chapter is a separate overview of a different subject in socially responsible investing.

The basic idea is that a person includes personal, ethical, religious, or moral values in their investment decisions. There are no standards set by SEC on this, nor is there certification required by brokers to determine whether or not a broker or mutual fund is truly socially responsible. It is up to the individual or the individuals advisers to determine if a stock, bond, or fund is telling the truth.

Socially responsible investing contrasts with the mainstream view that the only responsibility a corporation has to its shareholders is to make money for the shareholders. This is quickly changing with problems with globalization and environmental climate change. Business as usual is no longer the same. Detractors claim that socially responsible investing limit investors choices.

However, ethical choices are always limited. The main financial advantage which socially responsible investing gives is that it limits legal liability by investing in companies that have a good environmental record, positive labor relations, and positive community outreach. Often there is also a greater measure of "good will" towards companies with ethical business practices.

Another difference between the shareholder mentality and the socially responsible investor mentality is that the socially responsible investor is more likely to view themselves as a stakeholder in a company. This means they are more likely to use their proxy votes, examine corporate governance, CEO salary, and attempt to pressure corporate change.

Ecology is the main reason that I am interested in socially responsible investing. I look for companies that practice both sustainability and eco-efficiency. Eco-efficiency is the practice of reducing waste, increasing energy efficiency, and reducing material using. Short term, it costs additional money, but long term it reduces packaging costs, energy costs, and waste costs.

There are two types of screening for socially responsible investments, negative screening, and positive screening. Negative screening involves eliminating the option to invest in companies in four areas usually, social responsibility, tobacco and alcohol, the environment, and defense industries. Some people look for positive companies that impact these four areas as well.

The book unfortunately does not name specific companies with positive or negative screens. It is attempting to be neutral and not offend any specific company. On P.152 it gives an example of a recycling shareholder resolution for Apple computers.

There is a focus on mutual funds because a fund can screen many more stocks than an individual can. They also have the resources to look up and down the complete line of a company. This takes a lot of research. Because of this many Sociallly Responsible Investment funds have heavy loads.

This book covers all the different types of socially responsible investments. There are sections on community investment, venture capital investments, bonds, mutual funds, stocks, and other vehicles. A few interesting items mentioned were The Domini 400 Socially Responsible Index, and the ETF (exchange traded fund) Powershares, Wilderhill Clean Energy Portfolio.

The book does not list any individual stocks which is a disappointment. Nor does it make specific recommendations on mutual funds. There is a limited amount of places listed for finding information. A few of the websites listed are,, and . There is no bibliography for the book. However, there is a short list of resources, a few pages of glossary, and an index.

This book is a very basic guide to the subject. I learned enough to get a nice overview of what socially responsible investing was. However, I did not get many resources to help me with the process. I don't think this book will be very helpful to someone who already has a decent amount of experience with the subject. I also wish the author had not tried to be neutral. It would have been better if he was gung-ho and made many more positive recommendations.