Countryside Journal - Good Read / Practical Advice

I'm writing this entry especially for urban librarians and librarians who live at the edge of rural areas.

Try checking out Countryside Magazine. It is a print publication whose web site contains selected articles from issues going back to 1998. It is an extremely plain spoken magazine catering to the needs of homesteaders and people wanting to make a break for the country.

Some recent articles have included:

Practical Solar Power

How To Make Vinegar

Thinking About A Homestead Enterprise?

Every issue also hosts a whole bunch of recipes. Some are written by editorial staff and others are sent in by readers. I have found good recipes for pita bread, hummus, and oat cakes. Whether or not you live in the country, there will be something you or your patrons can use.

Part of what I think is great about Countryside is that no monthly issue sugarcoats rural life. Every issue has stories from people across the country making the homesteading life work. Even the ones who love what they are doing speak in great detail about how hard it all is.

The bottom line is that if you feel have have people interested in old-time recipes, frugality, or chucking the city life for the country, you would be doing them a favor by subscribing to Countryside. Alternative energy patriots would also benefit from a subscription.

If you already subscribe to EBSCO MasterFile Premier, you can already read Countryside Magazine online. As someone who's read entire issues online as well as in paper, I can tell you that the PDF version through EBSCO can't compete with a paper copy. At least on a computer screen. Maybe it would be okay on a reading tablet with an 8 1/2 x 11 screen.

Top Journals For January

Top 20 journals, with # of page views, according to Urchin, for the month, so far.

1. shoe 345
2. nbruce 281
3. Daniel 229
4. Blake 203
5. djfiander 187
6. birdie 159
7. AshtabulaGuy 142
8. Rochelle 121
9. mcbride 87
10. Bibliofuture 86
11. Karl 85
12. GreatWesternDragon 76
13. madcow 72
14. singingbelle 68
15. donwarnersaklad 63
16. daidy 61
17. kctipton 59
18. sabine01 57
19. nbruce/rss 56
20. jeni 54

For my money, shoe is some of the best reading anywhere. (update) #19 is, in fact, nbruce's rss feed.

Equal Access

I've been getting some pressure from some patrons to put Chinese language word processors on the internet terminals. We most indubitably need Chinese word processors, but not on the internet terminals. If there is no word processing on the internet terminals, there is no word processing on the internet terminals, regardless of language.

The problem being, I'm nearly 100% sure that our word processor terminals, which are sad little boxes running Win95, can't handle our Chinese word processing software (used on staff computers).

So I have to upgrade one of them. I know I could do it if I could get one of the Dells fixed (It's not recognizing the LAN, and they're salivating for it in the children's room). I could then take the Win2k IBM from the children's room and put it on the public access area.

The assistant director said, "Time is now your enemy." Boy was he ever right.

I am reading about installing and reconfiguring Foolproof, our Mac security software. If my reinstall of OS 9 works on the iMac, I'll be having to do that. I am not horribly hopeful that my reinstall will work, but you never know.

By Douglass Shand-Tucci. The Crimson Letter.

By Douglass Shand-Tucci in the book The Crimson Letter page 350...
Nor do I mind as much as I should that the Boston Public Library still
refuses to publish (though they have duly paid for it) my evidently too
inclusive guide to that landmark.
pages 49 and 79...
We know something more of these clubs
[St. Botolph Club, Tavern Club]
from the more intimate memories of some of their leading members.

Theodore Dwight, for instance.

He was appointed director of the Boston Public Library on the eve of
the opening of its palatal new building Copley Square, and his
lifestyle sheds much light on these circles in the 1890's.
This at a time when Leaves of Grass, locked up at Harvard's library,
was also double-starred at the Boston Public Library--Lent only on
application to adult students.
Dwight was close to Henry Adams as well as to
Isabella Stewart Gardner, and also knew well the Harvard scientist
mentioned in Chapter 1, William Woodworth.

The nature of these intimacies?

Consider Dwight's correspondence with Gardner

"of a nature 'in his words' quite too confidential to have been written
  with propriety."
Homosexuality in Boston, particularly in this era, is itself very sotto
voce. But, like the figure in the carpet, if one listens and looks
hard, it can be pretty evident.

anti-war lyrics after 40 years

My 16 year old son put together a collection of anti-war songs at my request and even though these lyrics are 40 years old, I realize that they have as much significance today vis-a-vis the war in Iraq as they did when my friends and I protested the war in Vietnam. Check them out: Bob Dylan's Masters of War lyrics here and P. Sloan's Eve of Destruction here, not to mention Country Joe McDonald's Fish cheer and Fixing to Die Rag
lyrics, except on the version I have, the word spelled isn't exactly FISH. I think my son, a fan of classic rock, and a peacenik like his mother, really enjoyed hearing these songs for the first time.

It's too cold to go to the library

Honestly, I think it was... It was dead today. I even got to install Chinese fonts on all the new computers. I don't think I can do it with iMacs. The Macs all know how I feel about them.

I learned I don't like to order books. I love spending money on books, but I felt like a total slacker sitting on Amazon all day looking at reference books. Not that we get them there, but it was a good way of seeing what was available. I also learned we're woefully behind in certain series. I have to call Gale Group on Tuesday.

See, all my other jobs, if I were on Amazon all day, I'd get fired. I definitely feel more productive when I'm ripping apart computers, even if I don't get much done.

Monday is a holiday... for those non-US residents, it's Martin Luther King Jr. day. The library is closed. I don't think it will stop that fine young man that comes in every week and asks for the books on Martin Luther King Jr. Nice kid, really. Hangs out with his friends at the library, and sometimes they get a little loud, but they are voraciously reading about African American leaders. Reading is a glorious thing.

Life In The 00's

So here's an interesting problem that most people don't have now, and no one had just a few years ago.
I accidently let my wifes domain name expire earlier this week. Luckily I caught it in time, so no harm done. Even while it was expired her email kept working, which I don't understand, so she didn't catch me, but I did fess up.
So for a happy marriage, always renew your domain names early, it's like never forget her birthday or anniversary.

Chinese fonts

Remind me I have to download some Chinese fonts for the new computers... of course, I don't think our brand spanking new print station supports Chinese fonts, so I have to look into that too.

Alas, after doing such scarily named things as zapping the PRAM and holding down the "c" key while the iMac booted from CD, I have come to the conclusion that the hard drive pooped out on it. Hard drives are weird things. They either die in a week (like the ubercomputer's did) or they last forever. Evidently, this three year old machine (out of warranty, methinks) didn't know that rule. Looks like I'm going to learn to open a mac sooner rather than later.

I got my iPAQ. It is mondo cool. Now I have to construct a database (ha ha) about our machines. But today, since I forgot everything at work yesterday, I am loading it up with software and a couple of mp3s. And pictures of the dogs.

I don't care what my husband says, I needed it and it rocks!

Bush-Hatred Part II - Some bad policies are bipartisan

In my last post, I stressed the importance of focusing on policies rather than riduculing or demeaning an individual, say President Bush.

One of the reasons I think this is important is because some of the worst policies of the past few years have had bipartisan support. A few examples:

2001 "Bush Tax Cut" - This passed a Democrat controlled Senate and is one factor among several contributing to our $400 Billion Deficits.

The USA PATRIOT Act - Atty Gen Ashcroft is absolutely correct when he states this passed Congress by HUGE margins. All the current regret from some of the Dem pres candidates doesn't change that vote. They were weak and rushed when we needed them to be strong. I shouldn't blame them too much -- their offices were contaminated with Anthrax when they passed the thing.

We should also remember that most of the measures in USA PATRIOT were proposed by the Clinton Administration in 1996. Congress didn't pass it then because they didn't trust the executive with that much power.

The Iraq War - Dennis Kucinich ALONE of the Dem candidates IN CONGRESS voted against the war. Kerry and others remain proud of their votes, even if they quibble about intelligence.

I'm not saying you should vote for Kucinich, but I am saying that you should make sure that you are FOR someone who has at least some of the same positions that you do rather that AGAINST the Filthy, Psychotic Babbling Cowboy Bush and wind up with someone who happily carries out the Bush program. Someone like, say, John Kerry or Joe Lieberman.

Viewers Note -- My next post is going to leave politics behind. I have some final quotes from Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation and a magazine recommendation for you.

Since there will be enough political commentary between now and November to fill the Galaxy, I'll try to restrain myself from overtly political commentary unless it somehow involves government documents.

Librarian Paparazzi

I'm starting to feel like I'm going to have to start beating off photographers. More than a few people here at work, who never otherwise talk to me, have asked me about my OLA talk, and now I'm one of the most popular journals!

Somebody say something to deflate my ego! ;-)

Evil, thy name is Mac

Our email terminal did something very uncool yesterday at 4:55 pm. It's an iMac or an eMac or an aMac or whatever the hell flavor it is.

A librarian came down as I was doctoring yet another computer and said, "It's flashing a question mark!"

So it was. I know diddly-squat about Macs, but it was evident that when you do a hard reset, and a smiley face and a folder with a question mark come flashing on your screen at start up, that there is a major problem.

First off, though, what's up with that flipping smiley face? I'm not seeing what I want to see... The systems librarian is most definitely not smiling. It's like the hunk of circuitry was mocking me.

Haha, new girl, I'm not going to staaaar-aaaart! Haha!

Since it was 4:55, and I planned on getting out of there at five, I wasn't going to tangle with Mr. Mac. I find most patrons hate that terminal anyway (even though, yes, it is always busy). So today, Mr. Mac is on the agenda. After the print station, but before then LAN reticent Dell on my desk. And somehow, I have to work in my training period on reference.

To the person who zorched our startup file (as this is what I think probably happened): Couldn't you at least have waited till my third week?

My "nice, quiet" library job

Hahahahahahahahaha! Just kidding on the subject line.

Yesterday I found my favorite thing to do at the library... throw obnoxious kids out. I hate to be the shushing librarian, sure, but this was downright fun. Of course, it would have been more fun if the little creeps were actually ashamed of their behavior.

I followed the little creeps around until they left. The last thing I wanted them doing was throwing their book bags into the eMacs. I have no idea how to fix an eMac. I don't need anyone complicating that.

Today I am doing inventory on the machines. This should prove interesting. The plan of attack is staff machines first. I can't forgot the director's machine. She is located somewhere in the building. I could probably find her office again if I wandered a few days. Hey, I've only been there a week! I want to work on it while she's not there. I have to say, I talk to machines while I work on them. And swear at them, on occasion.

Speaking of swearing, the print station is ready to go. I just can't put it online until our "trial" status is off the coin op machine. I don't want to tick off the vendor, since they do all our stuff and they're local. Politics suck. That should be done tomorrow. I'll have to ask.

I felt like a doofus on the phone with the printer people. I sent them our MAC number, and they said, "We have no record of your account." I almost had a cow right there at the reference desk. Turns out, they have an account with the coin op vendor, not us. I am so confused.

I am using SuSE Linux right now to access the web (you know, if I put Linux on all the Macs, I could probably use printers on all of them! Hey!) and my pppd daemon keeps dying. I love Linux terminology.

One more day till my pocket pc!


I had a dream about crayons arranged by Dewey Decimal number... I am worried. It took me at least six months before I started having dreams about patents at the patent office...

Windows is from Mars, Printers (today) are from Venus

No help from the BPL today... For some reason I can't log into Horizon as administrator on my computer. That would be nice to be able to do that... Anyway, not the point of this journal post.

Next on the agenda? Better antivirus. If I have to operate many things in a quasi administrator account, I sure as hell want some assurance that no one is downloading stupid stuff onto our drives.

But the feather in my cap today... I got the blasted printer network up and running, with a little help from my friends at Fortres. I had the right idea, just didn't know how to beat the path to the right file. We are a-okay. My assistant director can die a happy man.

I was kindly offered microsoft's web address today by someone who didn't like our array of fonts. Granted, we should have simplified Chinese, just going on our town's demographic, but I don't know if our printer will support it. Either way, the poor guy had no way of actually putting it in a Word document on the internet terminals anyway.

Tomorrow I work reference. More stories from the front, but probably not till Wednesday, as tomorrow is my "late" night. I work till nine... Yes, sadly enough, it is past my bedtime.

Burning the time of the staff

So, I'm talking at the OLA conference at the end of the month on the subject of Saving the Time of the Reader: The impact of new technologies on public service.

We all know that online journals and bibliographic databases are wonderful, but they blur all sorts of lines, and undergraduates don't understand where one service ends and the next one starts. I regularly hear people say that they found the journal articles "on the library's web site".

Then there's wireless: It's great for patrons, but forces library techs to all become computer support people, or at least feel like they should, in order to provide appropriate service.

But that's all I'm going to say. If you want to hear the rest, come to Toronto.

More composed and composing

My fixing o' the Dell seems to have quieted some of my fears about my new position. At least, I didn't have dreams of computers bursting into flames last night (as I did the night before).

I think I even know what the problem might be with the printer, but I'm not telling any one at work. I don't want the poor souls to get their hopes up.

Nice thing: the assistant director sat down with me yesterday (you know, before the computers started freaking out on me all at once) and told me that Rome wasn't built in a day and that I shouldn't feel pressure to have the, er, wide variety of issues we face fixed immediately. Since I am someone who puts an inordinate amount of pressure on myself, this was greatly appreciated.

"A" drive man came in yesterday. He wanted desperately to use the A drive on the information desk computer (later I realized it didn't have one...) Little did he know I was about ready to hide all the public access computers yesterday and keep them under lock and key where no one could break anything, never mind the staff computers.

Last night I bought an iPAQ, even though I once swore I would never give more money to HP. Why? Because with all the crud I have to keep track of, my old Handspring Platinum (which I adore) isn't going to cut it. It's running Palm OS 3 point something I believe. Anyway, the iPAQ seemed to be the best received for the buck.

And as they say "LOCKSS" (Lots of copies keeps stuff safe)... Meaning I need to get some semblance of order on the computers at work, and I don't quite trust the old IBM that's sitting on my desk. Or all those celeron processors.

Ah, a day off till Monday, when I will have yet more adventures in computing, I'm sure...

information overload

Just ran across a fascinating tidbit in a book I'm rereading*.

A footnote on page 152 reads "Researchers at Bell Laboratories estimate that there is more information in a weekday edition of the New York Times than a person in the sixteenth century processed in a lifetime." Pretty interesting to think about.

...and this (1979) was before the NYT added Weekend, Circuits, Dining and World Business, etc.

*The book is Lawrence Shainberg's BRAIN SURGEON (Lippincott, 1979). It's the psuedonominous biography of Dr. Joseph Ransohoff, MD, now deceased, whom I knew in the early '90s.

Why I won't be buying "Bush-Hater's Handbook"

This week I got an e-mail solicitation to purchase:

"The Bush-Hater's Handbook: A Guide to the Most Appalling Presidency of the Past 100 Years"

The e-mail quoted Bob Fertik, co-founder of as saying: "Bush-hating is a
demanding vocation. Beginners simply hate Bush's character--ignorant, warmongering, and contemptuous of those who dare to question him.
Intermediates cite Bush's theft of the presidency, turning a $5 trillion surplus into a $5 trillion deficit, destroying 3 million jobs, and waging a war of lies in Iraq. But advanced Bush-haters need an in-depth understanding of the devastation Bush has wrought at home and abroad. From AIDS to the 'War on Terrorism,' from Ashcroft to welfare 'reform,' there is no better guide to Bush's reign of horror than The Bush-Hater's Handbook."

If you want to explore the "Bush-Hater's Handbook" in more detail, go to This book may well have a place in libraries, as might Richard Perle's new book "The End of Evil", but I don't plan to purchase either book.

My particular problem with this book starts with the title and the attitude expressed by Mr. Fertik, which I know is shared by many otherwise reasonable people. That of total visceral hatred of the President and his minions, which extends to bloody frothing and frequent crude humor.

I do hate many of the President's unjust and unwise policies. Many of these policies, especially that of "preventive war" will eventually destroy this country if continued indefinitely.

However, as Gandhi teaches, it is VITAL that we separate our anger at his policies from personal hatred of the man. In Christian tradition, "Hate the sin, but love the sinner."

Why is it vital? In my view, for two basic reasons related to November. First, focusing our hatred on the man, taking it out in crude humor, painting swastikas on his ties, etc, takes away energy that could be used to better explain the President's failed policies and more importantly, formulate some authentic alternatives. Second, the more we accept the originally Republican label of "Bush Hater," the easier Karl Rove's work is as he helps push the meme of "The hate Bush/Hate America" crowd. We sadly live in a society increasingly accepting of bald propaganda -- think of the "Saddam did 9/11" thinking that held (still holds?) more than half the country in thrall -- even though even the DoD disavowed a connection when they had a chance to have a "See I told you so!" moment. In the same way, the more that Republicans can say:

Democrats hate Bush
Hatred of Bush = Hatred of America
Therefore, Democrats HATE America

They can still TRY if we focus on the policies the President is pursuing, but it will be much harder to fool "middle America" if we're not flinging obscenties and ridiculing our enemies.

Going back to the example of Gandhi, he often stated that he hated every last brutal, unjust policy of the British Gov't in India, but he wished nothing but health and blessings for the Governor-General and prayed each night that the Governor would be converted to right and justice. Gandhi's approach did eventually lead to home rule. If we adopt his ways in our politics, perhaps we can convince the 5% or so of our opponents we need to send Mr. Bush back to Crawford. We sure won't get there by calling them mindless evil ones following their dark lord.

This is Trey, your customer support buddy

I don't know what happened on the circulation desk this morning. All the computers rebelled. Refusing log ins, then finally one just gave up the ghost, right there on the circ desk.

Pahphooey! Beeeeeep! Beeeeep! Beeeep! Six long beeps, no signal on the monitor. When my supervisor asked what that meant, I said, "He's dead, Jim."

It wasn't that bad. It was memory that somehow got shook loose, and I put it back in. Trey at Dell gave me the hint, and opening the case confirmed it.

If it wasn't the memory, it would have been the mobo. Thank god it wasn't. That requires the nice Dell man come out and fix it. I mean, I could do a mobo. If I had the time.

Where does the time go?

A fight also broke out over who got to use the payphone. Yeah. Like there's only one payphone in the whole state.

The public is just so civil.

2505 LISNews Lane

The term "pack rat" is thrown around a lot these days... I'm about half way to being a digital pack rat. I've got maybe 100 CDs of backed up old stuff. I save all the sent emails I can, which is about 80% of what I've sent in the past 6 or 7 years. I save very few other emails, but a few make it to my special "stuff" folder that's chock full of email goodness. There's a few flames, some praise, reminders of friends I've lost, job offers, and various other tid bits. One of the emails in there was a reply from long ago, and part of the reply had my little message from the mailing list that day, in which I write "The LISNews mailing list is now over 500 people!" I went on a bit about how nifty that was.
This week, we went over 2500 members, a bit different than the old mailing list counts, but a significant number nonetheless. Although, you might notice, the newest member is currently #2572, I've killed off around 70 accounts for one reason or another. The mailing list number seems to have been more or less consistently at half of the daily visitors number for the entire life of LISNews, which is some what interesting, if that kind of thing interests you.
I swear I had a point when I started writing this, now I've lost it.

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