Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Twitter Playlist: Torch Songs

This may become a Tuesday thing. This may not. But THIS Tuesday, I was inspired by Bettye Swann's cover of "Angel of the Morning" to put together a collection of torch songs, and tweet them out over the course of the day. Now I'm posting them, as a grooveshark widget, for people who don't follow me on twitter to listen to-- if they want. I may do this again next week, so if you like it, stay tuned. Same bat show, same bat station.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How to Make *Real* Footnotes: a Quick HTML Primer

This is mostly a post for my friend Todd, who writes the excellent film/TV blog My Favorite Gum Commercial, where he posts great, thoughtful reviews of things like Up and Eating the Dinosaur. As a bonus, he's very responsive to arguments. I've been too lazy to pick fights with him lately, but our back and forth over the relative merits of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It's a Wonderful Life was pretty epic.

Regardless of our differences of opinion, I've promised to show him how to make real footnotes using HTML, so I thought I'd put it up in a post.1 He's been waiting forever, and as he used at least *four* unlinked footnotes in his most recent post on Oscar nominations (which, by the way, is fantastic), I feel it's TIME.

I'm going to do this two ways. First, I'm going to post a template you can just cut and paste, and then second (if you're interested) I'm going to put on my librarian hat and explain the different parts of the html and how they work together. This is mostly for my own entertainment, so feel free to skip it.

For the elevated number part of the footnote you use:

<a href="#footnote 1"><sup id="footnote 1 ref">1</sup></a>

For the bottom:

<p id="footnote 1">[1] Footnote text goes here, tra la la. <a href="#footnote 1 ref">[back to text]</a></p>

To make it link back and forth, the words that go < href="# HERE > and < id="HERE > have to match. Simply change the numbers in all the names accordingly for each footnote. You don't have to use "footnote #" and "footnote # ref" as names if you don't want to, they're just what I've chosen.

Um, you know what? I am really tired of editing and re-editing this post-- blogging about HTML is seriously headache inducing, because each time you guys *see* < >, I'm actually seeing "& lt & gt" so it's *really* hard to make sure I have everything right, and if I flip over to check it in preview, all my footnotes go wonky. 2 So I am done with this for now-- you really only want to cut and paste, anyways. If you want me to explain the tags involved here, let me know, and I will. But for now I'm going to assume that templates will be easier for all parties concerned.

[1] To be perfectly honest, I'm doing this for myself as well. Although I use footnotes in almost every post, I go so long between posts that I forget how to make them by the time I start a new one. And then, of course, I have to google it, and sift through the links to find the one that makes the most sense to a computer illiterate. Now I'll just be able to peek back at my own post. Easy![back to text]

[2] Which, incidentally, is a fact worth sharing. The little "#name" thing will link to your *draft* if you look at your post in the preview or compose windows while writing. You have to stick with the edit HTML option all the way through if you want them to work. I am not smart enough with computers to know *why* this happens, only that it does. So if you don't want broken footnotes, don't use preview or compose. [back to text]

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Real Live Blog Posting on Ruby Oliver and Real Live Boyfriends

Hello miserable and abandoned readers!

I've finally written and published a blog post! My first in months. It's not here. It's over at The Misfits Bookclub, a YA bookclub I participate in with a bunch of friends. So, if you want to know how I feel about a set of redesigned book covers changing this:

to this:

You can find out right here: Ruby Oliver, Faceless No More

Sunday, April 26, 2009

5 Easy Steps to Becoming a Better Library Patron

So, BEDA is going to be over in just FOUR days. And I am obviously not caught up. But my goal is to get a couple more blogs in before the month is over, and so I am allowing myself another quick one, to help with numbers.

  1. 1. Do not re-shelve your books. No, really. Just don't do it. I know it seems counter intuitive BUT you have to trust me, it's really much better if you don't. You need reasons? Well fine. Reason A) You're going to put it back wrong. No, seriously. I know you know Library of Congress/Dewey Decimal/your alphabet. I know that the space you took it from is STILL RIGHT THERE. I don't care. You're still more likely to put it the wrong place than I am, and if you do, then we're SO EFFED. Reason B) EVEN IF you shelve it right, you're still doing us no favors, because part of how we keep track of a given book's popularity/usefulness is by how many times, inside the library, it's picked up and moved around. Here in MIT's Ivory Tower, we track it electronically with little portable scanners. Out in Public Library Land, where there is no funding/staff to be had, dedicated librarians, like reader Anna, keep track of it off hand. So, guideline number 1: leave shelving to the professionals.
  2. Card first. THEN books. I know this one is tricky, and I CONSTANTLY get it wrong myself, because you can't *get* your card while your hands are full of books, so I'm prepared to be patient while you put your books down and dig out your wallet. That doesn't mean, however, that I want you to hand me the book and then stare at me like a brainless lump for 15 seconds until I prompt you "Your card, please." And it also doesn't mean that I won't like you better if you approach the desk, card in hand, like a library pro. So, guideline number 2: Be my favorite patron, and give me your card first.
  3. In the same vein: if you're looking for a specific book, come to me with the necessary information to find it. Don't tell me you know the title when I need the call number. Don't tell me you remember the color of the book when I need you to tell me the author. If you don't have the pertinent information, go look it up. The computers are over there reserved for JUST THAT PURPOSE. Go use them. And don't glower at me or sigh aggrievedly when I tell you to. If you are really old, or nice but in a huge hurry, then I might do you a favor and look it up for you. But otherwise, don't ask me. In summary: Know the call number or similar for any book you want me to help you find.
  4. Remember: I am a circulation staff worker, not an IT person. I know a certain amount of useful information about how to use all the electronics devices we have in our library-- yes, even the microfiche reader, as much as I hate and fear it. However, if any of them break, there is only so much I can do about it. Beyond your basic, computer-neophyte Ctrl+Alt+Del, unplug-it-and-plug-it-back-in-to-see-if-the-problem-goes-away type diagnostics, I'm pretty much no good to you. If the situation requires something more complex, odds are you're out of luck, because if I'm here it's usually because more important people (like our IT guy) have gone home. If this happens to you, DO NOT GIVE ME LIP. ESPECIALLY not if you're an outside user.[1] I am genuinely sorry that our technology has failed you, but I do need you to understand that fixing it is not my job. So, if something breaks, remember: it's not my fault, don't yell at me.
  5. Please, please, please: don't argue with me about your late fees. I don't care if you thought you could renew your books, and didn't bother to check until the last possible minute. I don't care that the courtesy notice "never came"-- it's a COURTESY to remind you of the date your books are due, not an obligation. Unless you had a legitimate medical emergency or otherwise, I am not likely to waive your fines, ESPECIALLY if you act like a dick about it. You get these books for free, but you get them with the obligation of keeping track of them, and returning them on time. When you don't, you pay a TINY FINE. Suck it up. Pay your fine, and don't complain, or return your books on time.
So, there you have it folks. Five easy steps towards improved relations with your local circulation monkeys. If all these fail you, please keep in mind: gifts of candy are always appreciated.

[1] This is MIT-speak for someone who isn't a card carrying member of the MIT community. Mostly, these people are crazy/homeless/crazy AND homeless, and generally here exclusively for the access to free internet, which they occasionally attempt to use to watch porn.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Murder with Your Malted

So, as many of my loyal readers know, I've just recently started a new(ish) job. I've been working as a circulation monkey [1] at the MIT Libraries for a year and a half now, but just a month or so ago I switched from the Business and Social Sciences library to the Science and Humanities Library. Which means many things, but primary among them is that I now have unfettered access to NOVELS. This is, like I've told many friends, kind of like letting pill-addict become a pharmacist. Except instead of stealing things and putting the library in danger of criminal prosecution, I'm just giving the library's circulation stats a huuuuuge boost.

I can't do ANYTHING without finding another book I want to check out. If I go to stack in the Humanities section, I generally end up taking at least 1/4 of the books I'm supposed to shelve home with me. Mostly, I pick up books by authors I know, or one's I've been meaning to read forever. But sometimes, a title just grabs you, with nothing context. Like, for example, MURDER WITH YOUR MALTED! By Jerome Barry, for The Crime Club of Doubleday, Doran & Co. I mean, truly, how outstanding is that? And that's not even considering its summary! Which is so outstanding, I'm rewriting it here for your enjoyment:

Amusing, exciting, and set against a unique background, MURDER WITH YOUR MALTED is the first full length mystery story by a writer whose short stories have become popular in the slick paper magazines.

To the fascination of a behind-the-scenes account of a large metropolitan drug and lunch store Mr. Barry has added the suspense of threatening letters from a dead man, sympathetic interest of a pleasantly told love story, and the wise-cracking, up-to-the-minute Broadway sophistication of a soda-jerker narrator.

Sprinkled with the jargon of the soda-fountain trade, but losing nothing in the way of suspense because of its sophistication, this book is a real find in mystery fiction.

Did you read that?!?!?! A SODA JERK NARRATOR with UP-TO-THE-MINUTE BROADWAY SOPHISTICATION! An exciting behind-the-scenes look at a Metropolian Drug and Lunch Store--- which I have always heard were veritable HOTBEDS of intrigue and suspense! And a SYMPATHETICALLY-TOLD love story to boot!! I have no idea if I will ever read this book, because I don't know if it could ever be as good as the book I've imagined. But I am so, so glad to have its potential for OUTSTANDINGNESS in my life.

[1] N.B. This is not my official title-- that's something like "Public Services Assistant"-- but unless you know that, at MIT, "Public Services" is newspeak for circulation, it would tell you NOTHING about what I do. So, "circulation" because that's where I work in normal-people speak, and "monkey" because my job is so easy a monkey could do it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Five Answers (un-not)

Here are the answers to the five questions I posted last night, then got too distracted to answer.

1. First, background on the question: I started asking this of everyone when I was 20, and suddenly thought that half a lifetime ago I was a WHOLE semi-adult person, capable of forming her own opinions of things-- and people. So, at 20, I wondered what 10 year old me would have thought of 20 year old me, and I decided I would have been really impressed with me. I think me-then would have liked me-now a lot. But I mean, 10 year old girls are easy to impress. When you're 10, all you know about being 20 comes from watching television shows, so it's guaranteed to seem glamorous. Therefore, any 20 year old who pays you the slightest bit of attention is OUTSTANDING because they seem both glamorous *AND* nice, because they're talking to YOU instead of glamming about with their presumably awesome boyfriend in their fancy car. So, OF COURSE, me-10 would think me-20 was cool. But it was fun to think about just the same, and a fun question to ask people, because the answer was almost always yes, and it was pleasant for all of us to realize that, even though we felt lame most of the time, our 10 year-old selves would still admire us.

The question doesn't just end there, though, of course. Because once you've taken the lid off the box of past-yous, they just start wandering around, giving opinions on everything. To keep it simple, though, when talking to others, I try to stick with me-10-years-ago model. It's easy to articulate. So, now that I'm 23, and most of my friends are 23, I ask what would your 13 year old self think of you now. Which is a much, much thornier question, at least for me. Because as a 13 year old, I was undoubtedly the worst person I was ever going to be-- I think most people are. I had just started a new school and I stumbled in to being friends with the popular girls. It was a right long year of being rotten and group-thinky until it all dissolved hideously because I bought a purple tank top for myself without getting the group leader's OK and was ostracized because purple was HER color.1 So, I don't necessarily know if 13 year old mean girl me would like 23 year old dweeby librarian/trivia-enthusiast me, at least not immediately. But I think if we had an evening together, at a boring party or similar, she'd come around to liking me. I doubt, however, that she'd ever mistake me for cool.

2. Background on this question: this is one I came up with last year when I was working in a children's bookstore in Cambridge, because it was a fun way to get to know my fellow booksellers. It's slightly more original than asking their *favorite* book, because different people approach the question in very different ways. Some people, for example, were utter pragmatists, and they picked Harry Potter, because then they'd be millionaires. Which is very smart. Other people were idealists-- one girl picked The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, for example, because she thought it was the most impressive accomplishment of any author in the store. And all the others were, for lack of a better description, stylists. They thought about themselves, the kind of things they liked, and the kind of things they produced, and picked the book that was the most superlative example of that style.

Although I find the pragmatic approach tempting, now that I know of it, I am at heart a stylist. I would never have thought to pick the highest earning book, and even when wishing, I don't think I'd wish to make something that didn't seem like ME, no matter how impressive I found it. That sort of seems like a different wish-- I might wish I were THE KIND OF PERSON who could write Middlemarch, for example, but even when playing pretend I know I'm not. Even though I don't write (as my lax blogging indicates), I have a sense of the kind of stories I'd produce if I did, and I feel bound to pick something in that style. So, when answering this question, I try to think of a book that seems like a Me Book, but me done the very best possible way.

When I answered the question last year, I picked I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith2, because the book is light and funny and a good bildungsroman about a smart girl with a screwball family and a fondness for Austen. And it's set in a castle. And all those things felt me, but superlatively so. Now I think I'd say The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, although even WANTING to have written that book feels like unpardonable hubris. However, it's about the complicated ways people relate to one another and P.G. Wodehouse and the difficulties of being a smart girl and wordplay and feminism and situationist ideas so... it does fall within the realm of me. And it's an incredible book that I think could help a huge number of girls make sense of the world, so I certainly wish I had written it.

3. This is a tricky one, because I have such a profound love for so many different fictional worlds-- Jasper Fforde's fake England was a serious contender, as was the world of Harry Potter (as frustrating as those books become for me by the end of the series). At the end of the day though, I can't help but pick The Enchanted Forest, as imagined by Patricia C. Wrede in the Dealing with Dragons books. It's intensely and impressively magical, but magic with a wry sense of humor, and it's blessedly low-stakes. As much as I enjoy reading about, Regency England, for example, there are far too many ways to end up seriously unhappy. Ditto Jasper Fforde's England and Rowling's Harry Potter. In the Enchanted Forest, however, although you can be unhappy, it's usually your own fault. You can be punished for being greedy, or stupid, or mean, but if you keep your wits about you, use your common sense, and treat people respectfully, you'd be ~relatively~ okay. And the thick, green carpet of moss it's supposed to have is just too inviting to turn away from.

4. Either the story of how I got the scar above my eyebrow in 7th grade math class , or the story of how I broke up with one of my boyfriends the night after we visited Auschwitz on a school trip (which, I SWEAR, is not as evil as it sounds). Both stories are too long to tell here, but you guys let me know which one sounds more interesting, and I'll tell the whole thing in a later post.

5. My friends in college once paid me $30 to sing "I Touch Myself" by the Divinyls in our school's Spring Fling Karaoke competition. I did, it was awesome, I should have won, but didn't. There is video footage out there SOMEWHERE that will surely come back to haunt me some day.

Bonus question 1: I am a serious YA lit enthusiast, and I found Brotherhood 2.0 in March of '07, when John had his eye ailment. Libba Bray is another YA author who's friends with Maureen, and she has a blog, and she also has a glass eye. So she went in to visit John and amuse him with it while he was in the hospital, and then she blogged about it, and linked to Brotherhood 2.0 where I went and promptly fell hopelessly in love.

Super bonus: Oh, John. Completely John. I like them both, but I like John best.

Triple super bonus: For a long, long time, I thought I would never get over Christopher Eccleston, and then Human Nature/Family of the Blood happened, and I realized that David Tennant owned my whole heart. Series 3 is my favorite and, bucking the general trend, Martha is my favorite companion, although Donna Noble has gained siginificantly. Rose, who I loved for so SO long, grew markedly less awesome when her whole plot became will she come back/won't she, will she and the Doctor/won't they. I still miss Jackie, Mickey, and Pete though. ESPECIALLY Jackie.

Oooof. This is a lengthy post. I hope you all will forgive me my wordiness.

[1] Well, it was little more complicated than that but yes. That really did happen.
[2] Which is, in case you don't know, the book I get my blogger pseudonym from. Cassandra Mortmain is the book's narrator, and the entire book is written like it's her diary, so it seemed appropriate for a blog.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Five Questions, Five Answers (not)

So, as proposed, I am going to ask five questions of my BEDA buddies here, and then answer those same questions myself. Anyone else who reads my blog (aka Anna and Jeremiah) is encouraged to answer the questions as well, if they're interested. I figure this is a better way of spending my library desk hours than playing DeepLeap, as there's no way to pause the game when a patron comes along needing help. I've given one too many person an exasperated stare they really didn't deserve for interrupting my games-- but it's so addictive! I don't know how to stop!

So, I'm going to try to blog instead. Coming up with 5 questions is harder than I would have thought, probably because I am continually second guessing myself. But here's what I've come up with:

1. If your 13 year-old self met you today, not knowing who you were, would they think you were cool?
2. If you could have written any book in the world, which one would you pick to be yours, and why?
3. If you could live inside any movie, book, or play, which one would you choose?
4. What story about yourself have you told more times than any other? Can you tell it to us?
5. What is the strangest thing you've ever been paid to do?

Bonus question, for the nerdfighters amongst you: How did you discover Brotherhood 2.0?

Super double bonus nerdfighter question: Hank or John?

Triple secret bonus question for Doctor Who fans: who's YOUR Doctor? And who's your favorite companion?

... And I'm going to write the answers to these tomorrow, because I came home and got distracted by watching Mean Girls and 30 Rock with my roommate, because I am obsessed with Tina Fey and think everything she does is perfect. But I wanted to post the questions at least!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hello BEDA Buddies!!

Hi Dave, Kasey, and Shecaptain! Welcome to my sorry excuse for a blog. I though, maybe, that a fun way for us to begin getting to know each other would be to come up with 5 questions each, and then answer both our own and those submitted by the other three. I've been having a hard time coming up with topics for posts, but I love love love asking people questions, and I definitely enjoy answering good ones myself. So this is a very self-serving suggestion, but I hope a good one as well.

What do you three think? If you're all in we could take the night, and post our 5 questions tomorrow.

Why so gloomy, Batman?

So, color me embarassed. I've just gone over my sorry attempt at keeping up with BEDA and, not only have I not blogged every day, but good golly, have my posts been whiny. And ranty. Which is funny, because April has, so far, actually been a pretty great month. So far I've:

  1. Started a new job with great coworkers in a pretty, pretty building stuffed to the brim with lovely books.
  2. Frolicked in the sunshine.
  3. Looked longingly out the library windows at OTHERS frolicking in the sunshine while I was stuck behind the circ desk.
  4. Looked gloatingly out the library windows at others scampering miserably through the April showers.
  5. Read, and adored, Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson.
  6. Rediscoverd my all-consuming passion for Lord Peter Wimsey.
  7. Seen one of my all-time favorite singers in concert.
  8. Met baby Annabel!
And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head, in terms of good things that have happened this month. I know I could come up with even more if I thought about it. But all I have written here is grousing. My cupcakes turned out poorly, I hate the ads on the MBTA, etc. etc. Who knew I would be such a dour blogger?

NO MORE, though. I'm turning over a new leaf. I will blog more regularly, and more cheerfully. Really, I promise.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Welcome Annabel Kristine Buenaventura Halloran!

As Jeremiah has ever graciously pointed out, I am *decidedly* behind on my BEDA entries. Maureen assures me that this is okay though, and I agree-- there's nothing to be gained by feeling defeated, only something to be gained by actually blogging as often as I can bring myself to. Today, I am very lucky because the world, via my friends Greg Halloran and Katty Buenaventura Halloran, has provided me with an unimpeachably awesome subject:

Annabel Kristine Buenaventura Halloran, their brand spanking new 8-pound bundle of adorable newbornousity. She is the first baby my group of close friends has produced and, therefore, is guaranteed to be adored by one and all. I cannot wait to meet her and shake her teensy, tinsy hand. In honor of her birth, I'm going to make a list of 5 things I already like about her:

  1. 1. Her totally awesome name-- Annabel Kristine! In addition to *sounding* pretty, Annabel means "loving", so it's great on multiple levels. Also, all the best people have four initials.
  2. 2. She has excellent taste. I mean, you Boston people, take a look out your window-- can you imagine a nicer day to be born? I couldn't.
  3. Even though she's only 12 hours old, she's already established herself as completely crafty. Her parents were determined to be surprised by her sex, and she really committed to obliging them. From small, folklore-ish signs (being carried high in her mom's womb) to more definitive medical ones (causing a rash that indicates a boy 70% of the time, possessing a slower heartbeat), she really tricked everyone into thinking she would be a boy. I am hoping this is a sign of great things to come-- like an illustrious career as an international super spy.
  4. Even though her hands are absolutely bitsy, she has one hell of a grip. Even though she's barely a day old, she's already strong!! So that's awesome.
  5. She will provide me with an excuse to buy SO MANY CHILDREN'S BOOKS! I've already given her four board books-- Down By The Bay by Raffi, Quiet LOUD by Leslie Patricelli, Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Allsburgh, and The Monster at the End of this Book By Grover (as told to Jon Stone)-- and I will soon give her ever so many more!! Every picture book I've ever been unable to justify purchasing for myself, I will give to her. I am ATWITTER with ideas already!!!
So-- there we are. Five things about the utterly remarkable baby I met today. May her awesomeness grow with every passing day!