Friday, August 28, 2009

Making Students Feel Welcome in the Library

The new semester started Monday, and quite a few students came into the library to make photocopies of parts of books. Some didn't have enough money, and some didn't have any at all. I lent one desperate student 40¢, but the rest said they would be back after class. I kept their books for them on my desk.

Last evening a student came in and said she was back for her book. It was the last one left on my desk, and I completely forgot that she had been in the night before to take the book out. I couldn't check it out to her at that time because she didn't have her ID card. So she was back with her card to check out her book, and I, ever the on-the-ball "librarian," was thinking she wanted to make copies.

I handed her the book, and she stood there. I smiled. She smiled.

"Um . . .I'm new at this," she said. "What's the procedure?"

"It takes money," I said, referring to the copy machine.


"Yup, money. It can take dollars . . . "


"Right. Or dimes. Whatever you have."

"Dollars or dimes?"

I wondered why this normal-looking girl kept repeating everything back to me. She still stood there, so I gestured to the copy machine across the room. She turned and looked in its direction, and then turned back to me. Did she not know what a copy machine looked like?

"Where do I go?" she asked.

"Over there," I said. "Against the wall. The copy machine. Here, I'll show..."

"But I just want to take the book out," she said.


As I've said more than once, there's a reason why we have blonde jokes. (She had brown hair, by the way.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Curtain of Beans

Last year I posted about my Rube Goldberg bean support. I'm guessing most of you are too young to know who Rube Goldberg was. If so, I'm sure the Internet can show you lots of examples of his work. I got a crop of beans from my efforts, but that sure was one unstable mess by the end of the season.

This year I've moved from Rube Goldberg to Frank Lloyd Wright. I'm sure the father of organic architecture would approve of Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans curtaining my ice house window. After procrastinating about creating a large and permanent support system for pole beans, to the point where I either had to plant them now or not do it at all, my desperate move was to nail strings to the top of the old window (unfettered by sash or glass) and hope for the best.

The best happened! I don't want to jinx things by sounding overly optimistic, but don't these plants look healthy? The only problem is that once they hit the top of the window they keep going inside the building, where they run out of sunlight in short order. I keep a little step stool in their so I can gently encourage the vines to climb back down the strings. The plants are covered in teensy beans, so while I don't exactly have the water boiling in anticipation, I'm looking forward to my first picking.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Magazines and Me

I woke up this morning thinking I should stop getting magazines. I’ve always been a bit of a magazine freak, but these days I can’t keep up with them at all. I subscribed to Family Circle, Women’s Day, and Good Housekeeping because I’d like to write something for them. The issues come in every month, and I never read them. I used to like GH, but I never seem to have time now.

I get O (Oprah’s magazine) because I love the quality of the writing (she doesn’t use freelancers, so that lets me out) and the subjects, but I hardly ever open the magazine. They're so big and glossy and packed with advertising. Not quite like Vogue (or how I imagine Vogue), but rather intimidating when it comes to a quick perusal.

I've always subscribed to Country Home and Country Living. Country Home is gone now, a victim of the economy. The current issue of Country Living is out on my porch, open to an article about raised vegetable beds, dahlias, and an impossibly rich couple who love to entertain on their rickety old wooden table surrounded by rickety wooden chairs, all outdoors with grape vines dripping around their heads. It sounds like I'm keeping up (with the magazine, anyway), but the fact is about a dozen back issues of Country Living sit in a copper coal scuttle on my hearth, still in their plastic wrappers.

At work at the library, I read a magazine while eating supper at my desk (actually my co-worker's desk because it's not so visible). I go through The New Yorker, Time, and Newsweek every week, and The Atlantic Monthly, Psychology Today, Agricultural Research (really!), and sometimes Ebony and Advocate every month. You know, looking at this list, I'm thinking maybe that's why I don't read any magazines at home.

My magazines at home end up in stacks where they don't belong and are in the way. It's not a good situation, and that's why I was thinking this morning that I might do well to get rid of the whole bunch of them. Then I got an email from Amazon.....

Amazon said my recent electronic purchase (a case for the computer my son is building for me) entitled me to half off their already discounted price on a selection of (you guessed it) magazines. I was about to delete (honestly!) when I saw the word "photography." My lifelong interest in photography received the equivalent of a shot of steroids this year with the shows I did. And I've been asked to do two more next year. So it would be nice—very nice—to read about photographic techniques and equipment on a regular basis. Like every month.

Okay, I'll cut to the chase. I ordered two photography magazines. One qualified for the half-off offer, and one........well, it didn't. And I threw in a subscription to Popular Science for my son. I have no idea if he'll like it, but he's a born scientist and hey, it was only six bucks.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yesterday's Sky

I took this on my way to work yesterday. (No, I didn't do it while driving.) The road elevation is pretty high at that spot.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Cameras: Why I'm Not Getting a DSLR

Not that I think everyone's all that interested in why I decided not to get a Digital Single-Lens Reflex....... But I thought maybe someone else might be in a similar position. Or maybe you just like reading about cameras. I do. :-)

I have a Panasonic FZ5 that I love. It's four years old and is what's called a "bridge camera." I guess these are considered to be a bridge between point-and-shoots and DSLRs. I've been wishing for manual focus and other manual settings, plus more pixels to give me the option to print bigger than 11x14. So I started saving up for a DSLR. I figured it would cost about $1,000 plus the price of a couple of decent lenses.

I have several 35mm SLRs in my closet, and know the drill. I considered (and still do, in a way) SLRs/DSLRs to be the ultimate camera. I began to think like my dad when he talked about buying his "last car." He lived to be 90, and I believe he ended up buying four or five "last" cars. The DSLR, I figured, would be my last camera. I had a Nikon D90 in mind, but wanted to look at what was out there. I was excited about this, and happily embarked on some research.

As I got deeper into looking at these cameras and lenses, I realized that in order to duplicate what the current generation of bridge cameras offer, I'd need a wide angle lens, a 50mm 1.8, a couple of good zooms, and a macro. This quickly added up to way more than I wanted to spend. Also, I started remembering how heavy lenses can be, and how tiresome it was to lug them around, even in my youth. Worse, I thought about all the shots I'd miss while I was busy changing lenses. (And, living on a dusty dirt road as I do, lens changing could be hazardous to the camera.) I've been using super-zoom digital cameras since 2000, and I'm spoiled.

In the end, I decided to scrap my DSLR plans and get the next generation of Panasonic bridge cameras when it comes out later this year. It has everything I want and will cost under $400. And I'm fairly certain it won't be my last one. I might even get a second camera this year, something different. Now that I've decided not to get the DSLR, I'm feeling positively affluent.