Saturday, May 30, 2009

Deweying it by the numbers: 400s

This months "Deweying it by the numbers" hardly needs an introduction. The 400s are for language so most of the 400s are made up of dictionaries, thesauri, and other sorts of serious academic books. But there are so many that are fun and entertaining. So in honor of these fun books about words, I will now present them (almost) wordlessly:

Ballyhoo, Buckeroo, and Spuds : ingenious tales of words and their origins Made in America : an informal history of the English language in the United States The Professor and the Madman : a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English Dictionary The Secret Lives of Words Who Put the Butter in Butterfly? The World in So Many Words : a country-by-country tour of words that have shaped our language

I can't help but also mention I Love It When You Talk Retro : hoochie coochie, double whammy, drop a dime, and the forgotten origins of American speech or Mortal Syntax : 101 language choices that will get you clobbered by the grammar snobs-- even if you're right or... well I did say almost wordlessly.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Reference question of the month: Arlington childcare

Not all reference questions that librarians receive are able to be answered by finding the information in a book. Such was the case with a recent question that was asked by a patron over the phone about a list of child care providers. I answered her in an email.

From: Melissa Jeffrey
Sent: Tuesday, May 05, 2009 1:56 PM
To: *********
Subject: Child care

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you.

List of daycares from city’s website:

Associations of home child care:

Melissa J.

Since then, I have also found the state's website that lists providers. There are four types of providers: listed family homes, registered child-care homes, licensed child-care homes, and licensed child-care centers. The main difference between the first three is the frequency of inspections by the state. From their frequently asked questions:

Licensed and certified operations must have at least one annual unannounced inspection. Registered child care homes must have at least one unannounced inspection every two years. Inspections may be more frequent than the minimum required based upon an operation's ability to comply with standard requirements. Listed Family Homes are inspected only if there is a report of abuse/neglect or if operating illegally. Agency homes are currently inspected on a random basis and when there is a report of abuse/neglect.

I believe by cross referencing the links I culled from the internet with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services database, parents can make an informed decision about their child care.

Monday, May 18, 2009

For your viewing pleasure

Is it just me, or are movies getting too long? Whatever happened to wrapping things up in an hour and a half? Seriously, some of these movies are getting out of hand. Everyone already knew what was going to happen in Titanic - there was no need to make that a three hour movie. And Lord of the Rings - if they had all just walked a little faster, that film probably could have been about two and a half hours long. But I think the film that comes to everyone's mind in terms of unnecessarily long movies is the classic Gone with the Wind - that movie is nearly four hours long! Movies like that can really eat up a large portion of your free time!

These days, I don't really have as much free time as I would like. My schedule doesn't always allow me to watch a movie all in one sitting. Here recently, I have really gotten into watching television shows on DVD. You pretty much know how long each episode is going to last, so it is really easy to limit your tube time in order to get other things done. A show that typically runs for an hour on network television can be enjoyed on DVD in about 40 minutes, and a show that typically runs for 30 minutes can be enjoyed in about 20. The best part about television shows on DVD is that there are no commercials!

I really like the TV show selection here at Arlington library because there is something for everyone. We have everyone's favorite classics such as I Love Lucy and The Twilight Zone, as well as everyone's current favorites such as Grey's Anatomy and The Office. There are even many choices for children, like Dora the Explorer and The Magic School Bus.

A couple of my favorites available at the library are as follows:

Veronica Mars features a spunky little high school private investigator - full time student, part-time crime solver!

30 Rock: Tina Fey at her finest.

Ugly Betty is an unlikely addition to Mode's fashion magazine staff.

Schoolhouse Rock!- I think this one kind of goes without saying.

Check out our library catalog to find your TV Favorites!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Obsessions, mysteries and bones

I dislike mysteries. Did I say it loud enough? I DON'T LIKE MYSTERIES. Obviously this view is not represented by the library as a whole or even my other colleagues at the library: see here, here, and here. I can never figure out who did it and it always makes me feel like a less than knowledgable person. Also blood and guts and gore are not my thing. I have read a couple of mysteries that aren't blood and guts and I've got problems with them as well. Since these rely on personalities we have 20 people vying for the right to have a cameo in each book (I'm talking to you Qwilleran's friends [and mustache]!).

This hatred also extends to TV shows. No CSI for me (in any incarnation). No police procedurals. No psychic detectives (although I did flirt with Pushing Daisies which featured a detective). You can see the depths of this. What you probably can't see is how I came across my current obsession, Bones.

That is right. How can a mystery hating, gore abhorring gal like me start obsessively watching a gore obsessed, mystery entrenched show? It all has to do with this other television series that started up this year about a mystery writer who hangs out with the police and helps them solve crimes. I loved the main actor in Serenity and Firefly, and thought for sure I would like him in this. So I DVRed it. And I didn't.
Was it him or the show or me? I set to find out, catching an episode of Bones to compare it to. And instantly fell in love with it. Its a procedural with a lively FBI agent and a repressed logical forensic anthropologist with every single person in the cast of characters interesting.
While the television show's main character has the same name as the Dr. Temperance Brennan in Kathy Reich's Bones series, the character on the show is loosely based on the author's life. And since the library had the first three seasons for me to quickly catch up on the show I was able to thoroughly enjoy last nights season finale. And I will watch it when it comes back on tv in the fall.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Go Galt at the Northeast Branch LIbrary

The Northeast Arlington Reading Group has taken on the daunting task of reading Ayn Rand’s 1,100-page opus Atlas Shrugged. It is a particularly timely pick, because although the book was published in 1957, the philosophy espoused has been cited frequently in recent months by conservative commentators and opponents of President Obama’s economic policies.

Atlas Shrugged tells the story of an alternative America in which the government manipulates the economy by directing resources and money-making opportunities to people with the most perceived “need,” at the expense of the most successful industrialists. The captains of industry, realizing that all their efforts are being spent to the benefit of others, stop producing and instead go into exile. The people who keep the world running, who hold up the world (read: Atlas), drop that responsibility (read: shrug).

The pied piper of the industrialists is a man named John Galt. A common refrain throughout the book is the line, “Who is John Galt?” It is used in conversation as a form of slang to indicate that the answer to a problem is impossible to determine or futile to consider. Through the character of Galt, Rand explains her philosophy of rational self-interest: if people are able to work for their achievement rather than for the betterment of others, everyone succeeds. (This is an overly simplified definition. Galt speaks for 60 pages about this philosophy in the book)

Parallels have been drawn between the government’s actions in Atlas Shrugged to the current government’s bailout of failing banks, insurers, auto companies, and other industries. Critics of the Obama Administration’s plans to raise taxes for people earning more than $250,000-a-year to a pre-2000 level and to help homeowners facing mortgage default make comparisons to the successful people in Rand’s book being forced to keep the unsuccessful afloat. Some people even talk about “Going Galt,” that is, abandoning their profit-driven enterprises to no longer pay for government programs they consider take advantage of their success. Or a more extreme option, by living off the grid.

But even some Rand acolytes see glaring differences between her vision and the current financial crisis. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who was once a member of Rand’s “inner circle” and wrote articles for her magazine, told a congressional hearing in October, “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity – myself, especially – are in a state of shocked disbelief.” Then in February he came out in support of at least temporarily nationalizing banks. Libertarian author and once-candidate Jerome Tuccille told The Washington Independent that Rand didn’t address the behavior of capitalists like Merrill Lynch’s John Thain who let his company falter while paying himself a huge bonus. On Forbes magazine’s website, economist John Tamny lamented the decisions of several entrepreneurial companies like Intel, Cisco and Microsoft to seek government grant money through the economic stimulus package. Libertarian columnist Will Wilkinson compared the “Going Galt” movement by conservatives to the “If Bush wins I’m moving to Canada” mentality of liberals.

The easiest way to Go Galt: attend the Northeast Arlington Reading Group discussion of Atlas Shrugged at the Northeast Branch Library on Tuesday, June 9 at 7 p.m. You can keep your job and your worldly belongings.

Other sites of interest regarding Ayn Rand and Going Galt:

Stephen Colbert on Going Galt

Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism

‘Atlas Shrugged’: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years

The Atlas Society

An Ayn Rand Dissenter

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Welcome to...The Lighter Side

Every so often a review will be posted to this blog reviewing a book or series which lends itself to the lighter side. Ya know, the books you don't really want to admit to reading, claiming instead to be most of the way through Crime and Punishment, which is, of course, very engaging and hasn't been sitting on your bedside table for the last year with only ten pages actually read.

Yeah, I'm talking about the books that keep you laughing all the way through. You may not have learned anything particularly complicated or discovered the meaning of life in their not so lengthy set of pages. But you remember the fun you had reading every word. How the book kept you coming back for every new laugh. The Lighter Side will suggest a new book or series to tickle your fancy and bring you hours of enjoyment.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig.

Ah, the world of spies, espionage Welcome to the world of the nineteenth century, where a spy seems to grow out of every garden. Eloise Kelly is a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University working on her thesis...and running out of time. She has traveled to not so sunny London to dig through the dusty tomes housed in the dark recesses of the British Library searching for some hint, scribbled side note, or random ink blob which might hint at the identity of one of England's most historically elusive nineteenth century spies...the Pink Carnation. Eloise has vowed, to herself if not necessarily her thesis committee, to be the historian who finally reveals the identity of the carnation.

However, when sneezing her way through the dusty tomes of the British Library only leads to a perpetual squint and a seemingly permanent hunched posture, Eloise goes for broke and appeals to the descendants of on of the known spies, Lord Selwick, the Purple Gentian. Who knows what treasure she might find hidden in the inaccessible reaches of the descendants' archives? Or what might lie in the heart of the descendant himself?

Follow Eloise's trail, as she winds through numerous letters and journals, seeking the Carnation's true identity and humanity.

If you like the first one, follow Eloise on more garden spy adventures with her next four novels.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Can't find what you're looking for? No Problem!

If you can't find the book, movie, music CD, or article you want at the Arlington Public Library, there is still hope! Try using our Interlibrary Loan service by searching WorldCat for what you need. WorldCat pulls together items from over 10,000 libraries across the country. You are bound to find what you need in this extensive catalogue.

You can access WorldCat by going to and clicking on Research Tools on the menu to the left. There, you will find WorldCat in the first box called Database Quick Links. When you click on WorldCat, this is what you'll see:


Searching is pretty easy and, once you've found an item, you can click on the title to get a wealth of information about it. You can also see which libraries have the item by clicking "Libraries worldwide that own item." Pretty simple, really.

There is a fee of $2.00 for each item you order through the Interlibrary Loan service, but that's a much better deal than what you might end up spending at the bookstore for an item you don't necessarily want to own. For more information on our Interlibrary Loan policy, please click here.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Last Blog

The Southeast Arlington Reading Group will be discussing The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch on May 21st at 7 p.m., . We also will be watching selections from the filmed lecture. Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He was diagnosed with terminal pancriatic cancer at age 46 and passed away at age 47. Knowing he had maybe just months to live he gave his "Last Lecture" on September 18th, 2007. The book is an expanded version of the filmed lecture.
I have an engineering problem. While I am for the most part in terrific physical
shape, I have ten tumors in my liver and I have a few months to live. I am the
father of three young children and married to the woman of my to
teach my children what I would have taught them over the next twenty desire to do that led me to give a last lecture....I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children....So begins the remarkable story.

He titled his last lecture "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams."

Randy's dreams were:

  • Being in zero gravity.
  • Playing in the NFL.
  • Authoring an article in the World Book Encyclopedia.
  • Being Captain Kirk.
  • Winning stuffed animals.
  • Being a Disney Imagineer.
In the context of these dreams he imparts his wisdom. He says the "brick walls are there for a reason. They're not to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something....the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people."

He has a chapter titled "Adventures and Lessons Learned", which goes more into the story behind his illness and personal details. And lessons learned such as dream big, don't complain, just work harder, watch what they do, not what they say, the lost art of thank-you notes, the $100,000 salt and pepper shaker and no job is beneath you.

I was fascinated to find out information about behind the scenes of his preparation for the lecture. On the day of the lecture he was sick from chemo. He was actually deleting and rearrranging slides up to the last minute before he was introduced to speak. As a visual thinker he had prepared a Powerpoint presentation with some text on certain slides. Once he was on stage they were supposed to remind him what to say. He did not have a written out text of what he was going to say. This made for a fascinating and entertaining from the heart presentation.

In conclusion he said the lecture was not about achieving your dreams, but how to live your life. And the lecture was not for the people in the room it was for his three children. His last slide showed a picture of him with his three children, Logan, Chloe and Dylan.

I recently watched the Last Lecture which is available from a variety of sources on the Internet. I had viewed it sometimes last year when it was broadcast on TV. I had forgotten how funny it was and how his sense of humor gave all who watched it wisdom of maybe how to handle our life and our "last lecture."

We may not be a professor and never give a last lecture, but we will have a last everything, including a last blog. Thus we should be mindful of our last things to ensure they have a enduring influence beyound our own life span. As Randy says, " time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think."