Friday, August 31, 2007

ListServ Life

On the PubLib email list, public librarians are discussing (translation: arguing politely about) blocking MySpace, or not. Someone posted a link to a very funny and interesting piece from the New York Times Book Review, A Space for Us by the novelist Pagan Kennedy. This is a wonderful window into how authors might think about their relationship to (for example) me, the rapacious reader. I don't think the Times locks up the Book Review. If you do need a login, the Waterboro Lib Blog shares theirs, look in the top left corner; or try

Anyway this piece, and the discussion which brought it forward, is so far a lot more enlightening than the current endless conversation on DorothyL, the mystery readers' email list, about the Mystery Writers of America's recent creation of an "approved publisher list" for the purpose of accepting submissions for the Edgar awards. Authors and publishers were posting like mad, and they seemed to have forgotten about readers altogether for the moment; the list moderator finally had to call the topic off-limits. And the thread on NGC4LIB ('Next Generation Catalog for Libraries') has once again spun off into acrimony afloat on a sea of acronyms. ACM ASIST&T IEEE MARCXML PERL VIAF OO C ISBD AI FRBR RDA MeSH MTI OAI-PMH CLiMB MODS xISBN

Hooray for Spirit and Opportunity

The Mars Rovers survived the dust storm and are back in communication.

"Opportunity drove some 13 meters (44 feet) closer to the rim of Victoria Crater so it would be better positioned to soak up the Sun's rays. A favorable wind helped the rover's cause as well, boosting electrical output by 10% by blowing dust off the solar panels.

"Spirit is up and running as well and is positioning itself to make more observations of the Home Plate region of Gusev Crater's Columbia Hills."


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day Trip to Victoria

Off to another country, to visit with W. for the day.

Northbound in the morning the ferry had a rescue drill. They announced there would be a drill and would the passengers please stay out of the way; then threw a big dummy in the water, set off the man-overboard siren, and pulled a tight donut in the water while the crew (rather slowly) let down a boat. They puttered off to pick up the dummy. Then we started steaming toward Victoria. 'Don't we pick them back up,' I asked a crewwoman. 'They'll follow us to Victoria,' she said. Well no. Pretty soon we pulled another donut and headed back to pick them up after all, the Hurricane or whatever it was's steering had broken and they couldn't go anywhere. So the ferry pulled up near them and they paddled over with a couple of oars but somehow conditions weren't right. We pulled away, circled a third time, and this time threw them a rope and they hauled themselves hand over hand until they were lined up under the lift cables. Much fussing, slow cranking, and finally the little orange boat was back aboard. Arrived Victoria about 55 minutes late.

Southbound in the evening the 7:30 ferry left on time. (I asked a crewman; he said it had taken them all day to make up the time lost to the boat drill, they were still running 15 minutes late when they'd just arrived in Victoria, but were leaving on time.) It was sunset and dusk. The strait was absolutely calm. The Olympics across the Strait to the south were beautiful in sunset light; Mount Baker (nice photo here from seemed to loom right out of the water to the northeast until the light failed; then further south the moon rose enormous and orange behind the Cascade horizon. Just gorgeous.

Mt. Olympus seen across the Strait from the mouth of Victoria Harbor

On both crossings I studied the Olympic Mountains' profile just about the whole way. At the last minute when it was already too dark I turned around and tried to identify the bright sodium lights on the shore of Vancouver Island which I can see from my kitchen window. The lights were visible on the part of the shore I thought they would be, but it was too dark to pick out buildings there. The window of opportunity when it's possible to see buildings and lights simultaneously in the dusk (with binoculars) might be pretty narrow.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Grace Paley

Grace Paley died this week.

The literary bloggers are all telling their Grace Paley stories. Mine is tiny. When she read in Santa Fe, I stood in the long line with my entire beat-up stack of Grace Paley paperbacks for her to sign. When it was my turn, I told her, "I've loved your stories for a long time." "I can tell," she answered; and wrote her name in every one.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lillian Ridge Trail in Changeable Weather

About 40 minutes in from the trailhead on Obstruction Point Road. (Click for larger image.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rapacious Reader

The local library system limits new cardholders for the first three months to no more than 5 hold requests at a time, and 5 books out at a time; and they charge $5 per interlibrary loan. This made me entirely crazy for a few days. What, I can't get on the waiting list for all the new books which have been ordered, so as to insure a future flow? I can't even start waiting for the sixth title I want until November???? My former colleagues would fall on the floor laughing if they knew—I'm famous as an addict of the new. For a while I was so distracted by these limitations that couldn't find anything I wanted to read, notwithstanding that I continue clipping along at the rate of about one mystery per day. I complained to a friend on the phone. The apartment has a TV, so she suggested I join Netflix. "I want to read BOOKS," I wailed.

Things are better now. M. has loaned me an armload of her NW and Washingtoniana books, and is going to place holds in her name on a small flock of new fiction which the library has ordered. I bought a little pile of paperbacks at the Goodwill, for insurance. I go to the library every day and cruise the new books shelf for what may have come back in just now. And I discovered that despite having ignored him all this time, Henning Mankell serves perfectly well as 'acceptable material', which is what my old friend Phil used to say of anything which wasn't first choice but kept the reading-greed demons at bay. The library has a dozen or so Mankell titles, a mental TBR pile lined up for whenever I otherwise run out of Story.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

30% Chance of Rain Here, 60% at La Push

This morning I trekked out to Sunset Berry Farm, they have a self-service shack with refrigerators full of fresh blueberries; you take what you want, write it down, and leave money in the can. Oh mercy me they are too delicious. I should have bought more than one pint after driving all that way. This weekend is the climax of local blueberry harvest.

It's raining. It must be REALLY raining out on the rainforest coast. It turns out that in PA we get only 25 inches of rain a year, and on the outside coast more like 115 or 120 inches. 150" in the Hoh rainforest. Looking for a table of rainfalls from an authoritative source, but so far have found only an image, which certainly makes it clear enough. A couple of sources say that for each mile you go west of PA you add an inch of annual rainfall.

Well, I believe we will now experiment and see just how much tourist traffic there is along 101 through the Park and on the way to the Outside in un-touristy weather... When I drove out earlier this week on a sunny day there were hordes of people on the Park beaches.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Second Beach

The trail to Second Beach at La Push. Second and Third Beaches at La Push are part of Olympic National Park; but not to be confused with Beach 2 and Beach 3, also part of the Park, further to the south near Kalaloch.
There were a lot of people down there, families and small children, and tents pitched at the back of the beach. Along the beach, sea gulls and pelicans and bald eagles were working some flock of fishies just beyond the sand. Between assaults the eagles were standing around on the strand pretending to be sea gulls... Click for larger image.

Running Around My New Town

The library does things differently. They don't separate out genres, nor their NW or Washintoniana collection. Gotta pick out what you want from the general collection. New books mostly don't have a special circulation period. There is a shelf for Speed Reads—7 days, no renewals, no holds—but there was not one single book on it when I was there.

I still get excited every time I hear a sea gull, which of course on the town streets down by the harbor happens all the time.

I have a view to the north from the kitchen window. Harbor, strait, Vancouver Island. Click for larger image. Imagine, another country no further away than Pojoaque from Santa Fe, however it may take a 90 minute ferry ride and international security to get there.

Mt. Hood from The Dalles

Photo taken in the parking lot of the Riverview Motel. Click for larger image.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Monticello, UT ; Burley, ID ; The Dalles, OR

Including small scenic detours and a consistent never-before-manifested talent for taking the wrong exit and wandering around towns looking for the gas station or the motels or whatever, I have come 1427 miles since pulling away from Candelario Street late Wednesday morning. According to Google maps, only 305 miles left to go.

Phil Whalen grew up here in The Dalles. In the 30s. Before the dam I can see out the motel window. Mount Hood looms to the west. The folks in the motel office say it takes about 40 minutes to get to Mt. Hood from here. And that Google now has an R&D campus in town.

Now for some waterfall-hunting along the Historic Columbia River Highway further downriver, then streak for home; if an apartment I've never seen can be home. Yet.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Kim Stanley Robinson went to Antarctica as part of National Science Foundation’s Writers and Artists Program in 1995, the same season as Sara Wheeler and photographer Jody Forster. As a thriller his Antarctica at the 200 page point is still moving slo-o-o-w; and, except that it is set a short distance in the future, it is still not clear what makes it science fiction instead of political satire. But oh my goodness, they took him everywhere, he takes his characters everywhere he saw, and his descriptions of what he saw are extremely evocative.

Later: I've been reading about Antarctica for a long time. I used to think that if life had a rewind button like a VCR, I'd roll it back and do glaciology instead of dropping out to become a hippie, and by middle age I'd be a senior researcher camped out on Ice Stream B, with graduate students to bring me hot chocolate in the mornings... That was vague, but this is specific: if I had one do-over pass to spend in my life, I'd try harder to go to Antarctica when I left the temple in 1992 or so. I applied for a job with whomever was the support services contractor back then; they never replied. Oh, ok, I thought; and set about getting a correspondence bachelor's degree so I could get an MLS so I'd have geographic mobility in my profession. So I didn't go to Antarctica, and I also didn't move when I got my degree, and here I still am for another 48 hours. And I will never see the Ross Ice Shelf, it's irremediable. The big regret of my life. When I lose track of why I am moving now, I think of the Ross Ice Shelf. I am NOT going to be old in the desert and wishing I had moved back closer to the ocean. It might not work out but I have to try, hard. Watch me. Here I go.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Not An Earthly

I distinctly recall using the small cooler as a light-weight fill-up-the-box item. But which box. It's not on the list anywhere. Turns out there's room in the car for it. If I had any idea where I put it..


Free-cycling one last round of stuff.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Making Note of the Hours

Port Book and News is open 7 days a week, 8AM to 8PM except Sunday 9-5. Doesn't matter what day I arrive, or how run-dry I might be for reading matter, there will be books in reach... Phew. The Port Angeles Branch Library of the North Olympic Library System will also be there for me, T Th F S 10-5 and M W 12-8. And I should have received mail to my new PO box and be able to get a card right away. I think.

Waiting anxiously for M.P. to bring me my box number and key. Then I can send out email to everyone with new address and phone, begin putting in change of address cards, etc.

Packing Purgatory

Wandering in circles, close to the end and never finishing. Reading one book after another, a problem since the endless supply broke when I ditched the rest of my life as a Santa Fe librarian. Need a new plan. Let's pretend the movers come tomorrow, and that I'm already in a motel somewhere. Pack bathroom, pantry, kitchen, miscellany. Live on take-out. Either go up the Pecos River for an afternoon, or do the much-postponed next issue of the Santa Fe Poetry Broadside, or in fact do ANYTHING besides drifting from room to room mislaying things, listening to Pandora Radio and not taking care of business.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Somewhere Out There

Notwithstanding that I thought about very little else for long stretches of the past two and a half years, I am after only three weeks entirely disengaged from the blog at My Former Place of Work, the ineffable Icarus. Don't even need to avoid looking at it: they'll do what they do.

I don't have the same distance on the library's catalog. It was my baby, I abandoned it when I abandoned my job, there won't be anyone else in the position for at least some months, and it's very hard not to focus on what I can't make happen. Other libraries running our same catalog software are incorporating LibraryThing for Libraries. Danbury Public Library (CT) brought it up first, and now Bedford Public Library (TX) and others have begun to offer it. Realistically, something like this happens when one person's enthusiasm moves their library forward. At MFPOW I'd have had to push and push, but eventually the library would have added the feature. I knew what we [now They] needed to be doing, and they accepted my judgement when the catalog was at issue... Searching by tags, lumping editions, and a recommendation engine, oh my. But Santa Fe's library users won't have access to it, I can't do it for them.

Danbury Public Library has also put a search box on their home page that searches BOTH their catalog and their web pages. I want it, I want it. Well, no I don't. MB at Reference doesn't live there any more.

Danbury's single search box triggered a long and increasingly acrimonious thread on the Next Generation Catalog for Libraries email list. Posts with titles like "Elitism in Libraries"; discussions of whether either we as librarians, or the 'AmaGoogle monster', will still be around in 50 years; and arguments triggered by Martha Yee's paper, "Will the Response of the Library Profession to the Internet be self-immolation? (written testimony to LC’s Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control)". KGS blogged 'Relevance Ranking and OPAC records'. The whole topic is as seductive as it is geeky-to-the-max, and all week I've been grieving that I have no relationship to it anymore.