31 March 2008

A Word of Advice

The Husband was complaining that he wanted to delete some of his name entries in Super Smash Bros (Wii), because a whole bunch were just test entries he'd made to try "stuff" out and it was getting to be a pain to scroll through all those test entries to get to the one entry he wanted ... &etc.

My tireless search for answer to this problem proved that The Husband wasn't the only one suffering from too many unwanted entries. However, as the correct answer was only found once and only then in forum thread buried so deep in the dark OMGLOLN00BBBQBBQ heart of the intertubes that my brain still shudders at the recollection of it, I will repeat it here to save others that terrible trip:

You go into "Group" and then "Names" and delete your unwanted entries from there.

So, the next time you have a question about a video game, remember that a librarian might not be a bad person to ask.

26 March 2008

Bird Brained

When my husband and I first moved to the suburbs, we seemed to enter an avian dead zone. We were seeing a lot of other wildlife -- deer, fox, coyotes, opossums, raccoons, skunks, woodchucks, rabbits, and squirrels -- but no birds and that really bothered me.

We'd been rather lucky with the placement of our house -- a largish lot just before a cul-de-sac in an older neighborhood which was never enlarged because of wetlands issues. Our view from the back is of nothing but woods and it gives us an illusion of seclusion and apartness even if we are a mere five minute walk from a large shopping center and a ten minute walk from the town center.

I figured our yard would be bird heaven, but it was not.

If I'd had a more normalized suburban childhood, I probably wouldn't have noticed the lack of birds. Or, if I had, I probably wouldn't have wondered where they all were. However, I grew up surrounded by farm, Audubon, and watershed land. There were always birds and birdsong. My mother put up feeder stations all over our yard so we could look out pretty much any window and watch the birds. They came by the dozens and were much better entertainment than anything on television.

And then I grew up and moved to an avian wasteland!

With great hope, but not a lot of optimism, we put up a feeder ... and then another ... and another and ... boy, do we ever have birds!

Our usual guests are pretty common for the area and, while this list certainly wouldn't make an ornithologist sit up and pay attention, we're pretty chuffed:
  • downy woodpeckers

  • hairy woodpeckers

  • red-bellied woodpeckers

  • monstrously huge blue jays

  • northern cardinals

  • mourning doves

  • black-capped chickadees

  • white-breasted nuthatches

  • tufted titmouses

  • american goldfinches

  • house finches

  • chipping sparrows

  • rose-breasted grosbeaks

  • dark-eyed juncos

  • american robin

(And, yes, some people do say "titmice." You can argue it either way, but I'm going with "titmouses," because it makes my mouth happy.)

Most recently, we were visited by female Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker. She was so startlingly beautiful that I wish I could have managed a decent picture of her, but my bird pics never work out properly. Of course, at first we didn't know what we were looking at. The beak and body was definitely woodpecker-ish, but not quite. Thanks to Stan Tekiela's Birds of Connecticut: A Field Guide (Adventure Publications, 2000) we figured out it was a female Northern Flicker. Poking about on Cornell's Lab of Ornithology "All About Birds" site led us to believe we were looking at a female yellow-shafted Northern Flicker and a nice clear shot on Wikipedia reinforced that belief.

While trying to find out more about flickers, I found a very good article in the January/February 2002 issue Connecticut Wildlife (available at many Connecticut public libraries) on woodpeckers and their ilk ("Connecticut Hammer Heads" by Paul Fusco) which has this to say about flickers:
As is the situation with most of the medium-sized woodpeckers in our region, the flicker is vulnerable to nest cavity competition with the starling. Although the flicker is still a common bird in Connecticut, its population has declined over the last 30 years. This decline has been attributed to competition with starlings.

Flickers can frequently be seen feeding on the ground around suburban areas. The short grass lawns maintained by homeowners are ideal places for them to find one of their preferred foods of ants. With their slightly curved bill and long sticky tongue, they can easily poke down into ant hills to get at their prey. Flickers consume more ants than any other bird species.
Got a bug problem? Attract some flickers!

19 March 2008

The Legacy of Heorot by Larry Niven et al

Many, many years ago I spent a few months at some relation’s summer house in upstate New York with five other people I had little in common with beside blood. One was a scrawny geek of a second or third cousin I had never even met before. Of course, I developed an instant crush on him.

I was utterly bored by the summer beauty of rural New York, the company I was stuck with, and the books I had brought to read. And then there was Fascinatingly Geeky Cousin and his Interesting Science Fiction ...

Of course, I had to read what he was reading. While it was different from the science fiction I usually read – more horrible and scary and macho – and I didn’t like it that much, I kept plodding on.

Eventually (and conveniently close to the end of vacation), I realized my cousin wasn't Fascinating (or even Mildly Interesting) and I put aside the scary science fiction book. We returned to Connecticut and I never really thought about him or that vacation again.

I did think about the book, occasionally, as I read other science fiction novels. And the more time went by, the more I wanted to know how the book ended. Of course, I knew neither the name of the author nor the title of the book. I guessed that, even if I tracked my cousin down, he would have no recollection of the book and just dismiss me as yet another nutty relative ...

Thank goodness for Fiction_L!

Posted an inquiry early last week and received several suggestions despite (or, perhaps, because of) the vagueness of my recollections:

This is the bit of the story I remember: Colonists arrived at a new planet via a planetary gate (it's a physical gate people/vehicles pass through) and began to colonize/explore/exploit "their" new planet. There were no other real inhabitants or animals on this planet that I remember except for a kind of rabbit/kangaroo/koala hybrid creature which was, I think, pretty cute and harmless looking. Every thing in the new colony was fine for a while and the terrible creepy things start to happen. It looked like the cute furries may not be so cute or harmless, after all ...

Niven, Pournelle and Barnes's The Legacy of Heorot seemed the most likely suggestion so I interlibrary loaned a copy and, with fingers crossed, started reading it earlier this week.

I believe it must be the book I read during that long-ago summer for it seems so familiar and I cannot imagine any other reason I would have read such a work of science fiction. Yes, it lacks the gate and the cute furries, but I’ve read so much science fiction since that summer that I may have merged memories of other books in with my memories of The Legacy of Heorot. The gate, I think, is probably from Julian May’s The Many-Colored Land (yet another book I read because of a boy-crush) where a group of future century outcasts take a one-way trip through a time-gate to Earth's Pliocene in hopes of building some kind of Paradise (of course, things don’t work out as they hoped).

The furries, however, are more problematic. Why did I think the grendels started as harmless mammalian creatures? Why did I block the enormous fish/amphibian/Gollum connection from my memory? I can’t remember meeting any “cute furries gone bad” in any of the other (many) science fiction novels I’ve read. So, if I’m misremembering the furries, I’m misremembering them from a book I’ve clearly forgotten or simply made up.

Obviously, I need to start mainlining gingko biloba and hawthorn before I start forgetting really important stuff!

15 March 2008

Still Mad for Maid Manga

So terribly pleased to find Kaoru Mori isn’t giving up on maid manga with the publication of the final volume of Emma. Shirley, which isn’t due out before July (!) is going to be a "collection of short stories [which] further explores the lives of English maids." CMX Manga/DC Comics seems to indicate Shirley will be a series as its site lists the 2 July 2008 publication as Vol. 1.


Obviously, I have circled 2 July on my calendar (and 15 July, which is the day Amazon says it is available -- weird).

And, according to CMX Manga/DC Comics, there’s an eighth Emma volume coming out in March 2009 which will contain side stories from the Emma-verse!

Darlings, you have no idea how happy this all makes me -- I want to track Mori down and kiss her like the obsessed fangirl I am.

11 March 2008

Consumer Health Literacy ... Rah! Rah! Rah!

As we all know by know, the high cost of health care is a problem for many people. Add to that the complicated hoops you sometimes have to jump through just to find a doctor (let alone get a timely appointment); a possible sense of fear, ignorance, intimidation, or suspicion when dealing with medical practitioners and institutions; and fear that, yes, there really might be something wrong with you and ...

Well, if you’re like me (or many of the people I help everyday), you come to the library. You Google the vast interweb or browse our stacks, hoping you’ll discover the truth of your condition and that the truth won’t be too scary.

As a librarian, I want to steer you well away from crazybobshouseofcures.com and toward legitimate/vetted resources like MedlinePlus or Gale's Health & Wellness. I want you to look at the library’s medical collection and see how up-to-date, relevant, and consumer friendly it is. And, if at the end of our time together, it is clear the library does not have the information you need, then I want to be able to refer you to someone or someplace who does.

Recently, I was lucky enough to participate in Health Access Training from the Connecticut division of EqualAccess Libraries. It was a fascinating two day program devoted to discussing community health needs assessment, consumer health literacy, and the nuts and bolts of collaboration/outreach with relevant organizations. Not only did I pick up a bunch of new health & wellness websites which I eagerly del.icio.us-ed away for later, but I also came away with many programming and collection development ideas I cannot wait to implement.

I would dearly love to take a section of empty shelving near our circulating medical collection and create a small consumer health collection of pamphlets and brochures for different local health and wellness related organizations and services (I know, pamphlet files are so passé and, yet, people love a free brochure). I’d like enough space on those shelves to also create a thematic display our circulating medical books which would rotate from month to month (heart health, diabetes, depression, smoking cessation, addiction recovery, etc).

Of course, what I really want (in my heart of hearts) is to offer monthly health and wellness workshops or talks in conjunction with local institutions like the hospital, senior center, VNA, Lion's Club, etc. I imagine doing really basic but necessary programs like having a representative from the hospital's speaker's bureau talk about heart health and the importance of good nutrition and exercise while, afterwards, the VNA offers free blood pressure screenings and we hand out healthy informational goodie bags at a table displaying our best and most relevant heart health materials ...

Today, though, I'll start by printing off some brochures from the USDA's Quick Information for Your Health site and displaying them with our newest and most interesting diabetes books on the end caps of the circulating medical collection.

09 March 2008

Great Hera! Trying to Catch Up With Wonder Woman

Finished reading Jodi Picoult's Wonder Woman: Love & Murder last weekend and I was experiencing mixed feelings about it right up until the cliff-hanger ending when I decided I hated it and would never recommend it to anyone else ever.

But, now, a week has passed and I have had enough time to mull over my Wonder Woman experience that I can say it was actually okay. Yes, the cliffhanger ending remains totally annoying (and unnecessary) and the whole Undead Mommy shtick just made me roll my eyes, but Wonder Woman herself was still pretty cool. I mean, she's Wonder Woman. I've been crushing on her just as long as I've been cringing over her.1

Now that's I've read Picoult's take on Wonder Woman, I would like to go back and read some other interpretations. Unfortunately, I've had a hard time figuring out Wonder Woman's contemporary chronology. Picoult's Wonder Woman: Love & Murder includes issues #6—10. Which book covers #1—5? I don't know. Wonder Woman: Who is Wonder Woman includes #1—4 plus Wonder Woman Annual #1 so, maybe, that one comes first? I do not know. Who is Wonder Woman hasn't been published yet as a compilation, but Picoult's Love & Murder has been out for ages. If Who is comes first then shouldn't it have been published first? I do not know.

However, I do know these collected volumes go in this order:

  • Paradise Lost: Wonder Woman #164—170 by Phil Jimenez 
  • Paradise Found: Wonder Woman #171—177 by Phil Jimenez 
  • Down to Earth: Wonder Woman #195—200 by Greg Rucka 
  • Bitter Rivals: Wonder Woman #201—205 by Greg Rucka 
  • Eyes of the Gorgon: Wonder Woman #206—213 by Greg Rucka 
  • Land of the Dead: Wonder Woman #214—217 by Greg Rucka 
  • Mission's End: Wonder Woman #218—226 by Greg Rucka
Yes, there's a significant gap between Paradise Found and Down to Earth where there do not appear to be any compilations. The individual issues go in this order:
  • #178 The Labor of Love 
  • #179—183 Land of the Lost 
  • #184 U-Boats & Dinosaurs 
  • #185 Her Daughter's Mother 
  • #186—187 Revenge of the Cheetah 
  • #188 Wonder Boys 
  • #189—194 The Game of Gods
As I'm a lazy and impatient comic book reader who can't be bothered with reading one issue at a time, I'll probably be starting with Down to Earth.

1(I guess I've never quite known what to make of Wonder Woman. She's a smart, strong, good, kind and genuinely nice goddess yet she runs around in red go-go boots and a jazzed up bathing suit. I am both heartened and embarrassed by her.

Truly, I am embarrassed by the costuming of many of my favorite female superheroes. Black Canary? Emma White? Cat Woman? Brilliant women who are, more often than not, costumed by idiots).

05 March 2008

Comic Books ARE Good for Kids

I am so utterly chuffed to know that my co-worker, Assistant Children's Librarian Lisa Shaia, has won the 2008 ALSC/Tandem Library Books Literature Program Grant award for her “Superhero Club."
Shaia's program, Superhero Club, encouraged children to use their imagination by creating a superhero alter-ego, complete with a costume, accessories, superpowers and a sidekick. Each club member then drew a comic book starring his superhero and at the end of the session, used their superhero powers to compete against supervillains in an obstacle course. 

The program, which ran for five weeks in the spring and then eight weeks in the summer, introduced club members to the superhero genre and encouraged them to read from the library's growing graphic novel collection. It is Shaia's hope that introducing young readers to pleasure reading, such as comic books and graphic novels, will keep them interested in reading through their 'tween and teen years and into adulthood.¹

2008 ALSC/Tandem Library Books Literature Program Grant winner named
You have no idea how much fun it was to see caped crusaders in the library this past spring and summer. It made me wish I were younger (or shorter ... shorter would work).