Christine de Pisan at her computer

xkcd 627 -- Tech Support Cheat Sheet
xkcd - A Webcomic - Tech Support Cheat Sheet

There really are a few of our library staff, not to mention some regular patrons -- and, of course, a lot of the more irregular ones (in more ways than one*) who could probably benefit from this flowchart. Assuming they know how to read a flowchart.

OTOH there are the occasional "helpful" patrons who think they need to fix things themselves, including adding paper to the printers when they're empty. I've even had patrons ask the question,"Where's the paper? I need to put paper in the printer." (My reply, "No, thanks, that's part of our job.") They are not unlike -- and possibly may be the same people as -- the ones who put their books away themselves, often in the wrong places.

If you mouseover the cartoon, it says "Hey, Megan, it's your father. How do I print out a flowchart?"

*No, not that way, thank goodness. Our computer lab is near the bathrooms.

You too can be born in Kenya

Talk about being born again.

Robert Schlesinger of U.S. News has a blog entry with his spiffy new "Kenyan birth certificate" which he generated at the Kenyan Birth Certificate Generator. It is of course based on the supposed Obama birth certificate that was in the news last week.

in a final thought, Schlesinger adds, "(But remember that the information listed is the stuff of password security checks and the like -- when you make your Kenyan birth certificate you might not want to use real names and dates.)"

See, this is where the conspiracy went wrong...

If the "birther" conspiracy were true, they should have had Obama being (not)born in West Virginia instead of in Hawaii.

That way instead of a boring official state document to argue over, like this one

they could have something pretty like this:

So far West Virginia only has the two "heirloom" birth certificates -- oops, "Certificate[s] of Birth" -- the quilt and the scenic view. I'm expecting one with the WVU logo or maybe NASCAR logos, like you can get on license plates, to appear soon.

(This is a WV Scenic License Plate.

The one on my car is this style, but it has numbers on it instead of saying "SCENIC", of course.)

Library hand

Before typewriters, and even for some time after in some libraries, catalog entries had to be handwritten. Melvil Dewey, when he wasn't working on his Decimal Classification or Simplified Spelling or his several other interests, tried to standardize the style of writing to be used on catalog cards and other library-related handwriting. Above is a sample.

At Google Books one can read Dewey's book "Library Notes", written in 1912, in which he not only explains why "writing machines" were not suitable for some purposes, but specifies the letter forms -- today we'd call it a "font" (page 282) -- but suggests the proper size of the letters and even the best pens (we'd say nibs) and "pen holders" (the things that the nibs were attached to so you could write with them), and ink stands. Steel pens were more suitable than gold ones or quills, he thought, and the ink stand he liked best was no longer being made.

Here are more samples of handwritten catalog cards, some in "hands" that Dewey would not have approved.

And patrons wonder why libraries now have our catalogs on computers!
WWI flying ace

July 20, 1969

This is another one of those posts where I get to show off how old I am.

Because I was 18 years old when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon.

It was the end of a long day, and an odd week already. My parents had, long before, made plans to be on vacation that week, camping out West with my dad's sister and her husband. They were in Las Vegas when the Moon Landing happened.

My two youngest sisters were staying with my oldest sister, who by then was married with twin sons (now 40 themselves, and one of them the dad of two little boys). My next-youngest sister and I were staying with my Aunt Ruth, and that day we had gone to New Castle, PA (about 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh; it's close to Youngstown, Ohio) to my cousin Beryl's wedding. And after the reception we came home to Aunt Ruth's apartment and sat in her living room and watched the astronauts, well into the night, an indistinct gray picture on a black-and-white screen that I don't think was more than 20 inches or so. We watched them actually land on the Moon's surface, get out and walk around -- or bounce around, in the low lunar gravity -- 250,000 miles away on the surface of another world than Earth. One that we had seen many times, but would never see quite the same way again.

Many times since then I have looked at the Moon and tried to figure out where Tranquility Base had been, or the other landing sites that came later, and try to somehow picture them in my mind, remembering that yes, people have been there. They left stuff behind that's still there.

I would like to hope that it won't be 40 years before people get back to the Moon; I'd certainly like to hope that it would be in my lifetime. I'm not sure it's a realistic hope at this stage, though.

Sonia Sotomayor, heroine of baseball

On August 12, 1994, the Major League Baseball Players went on strike. All attempts to resolve the differences between the players' union and the owners of the teams fell through. The season just stopped. There were no playoffs. There was no World Series. No Series?!?! "Many baseball fans lamented that while two World Wars, a Great Depression, an earthquake (1989), and other crises and disasters could not cancel a World Series, financial issues and greed by some could and did."

All through the winter talks between players and owners remained stalemated. There was talk of fielding replacement teams. President Clinton tried to set an ultimatum in the winter months, ordering the two sides to come to an agreement by February 6, 1995, about a week before pitchers and catchers were due to report to spring training. Even that didn't work; February 7 came with no resolution.

In March, with no spring training and the season scheduled to start in early April
On March 29, the players voted to return to work if a U.S. District Court judge supported the National Labor Relations Board's unfair labor practices complaint against the owners (which was filed on March 27). By a vote of 26-2, owners supported the use of replacement players. The strike ended when federal judge Sonia Sotomayor (who was later nominated to serve on the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama) issued a preliminary injunction against the owners on March 31. On Sunday, April 2, 1995, the day before the season was scheduled to start, the 232 day long strike was finally over. Judge Sotomayor's decision received support from a panel of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which denied the owners' request to stay the ruling.

Sonia Sotomayor saved baseball! Claude Lewis of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that by saving the season, Judge Sotomayor joined "the ranks of Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson and Ted Williams." Since she's of Puerto Rican descent, I think one could add Roberto Clemente to that list!

And I'm especially glad it was the 1995 season she saved. In April 1995 my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died in November. Daddy was a huge baseball fan, and it would have made his last few months even harder if there were no baseball to watch on TV.

Ook! Ook!

According to Locus Magazine's website, there's a new Discworld book coming out in "five months":
The Unseen Academicals.
According to both and, the book will come out in October. (You may of course order, or pre-order, or intend to buy, borrow or steal this book at another bookstore or library near you, or at least more consistent to your feelings about such places for whatever reasons, if you prefer. But preferably not steal.)

There's already a Wikipedia article, too, which summarizes the plot thus:
The novel satirizes association football,[1][2] and features Mustrum Ridcully setting up an Unseen University football team, with the Librarian in goal.[3] It also includes new details about "below stairs" life at the university [3].

The numbers refer to footnotes in the article. The article also links to, among other things, a separate article about the Librarian.

"Association football" is the sport most of us in the US call "soccer." And to many of us North Americans, especially those of us near cities whose NHL teams are still in the playoffs*, "in goal" calls up visions of ice hockey, not any kind of football. White ice instead of green grass ... and an orangutan in a facemask with a big stick?!?!? (Not necessarily speaking softly, either.)

*Go Penguins!