Showing posts from September, 2013

[Book Review] A Prayer for Owen Meany

A Prayer for Owen Meany / John Irving ( Powell's Books ) In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys — best friends — are playing in a Little League baseball game in New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills his best friend's mother. Owen Meany believes he didn't hit the ball by accident. He believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen after 1953 is extraordinary and terrifying. He is Irving's most heartbreaking hero. I first read A Prayer for Owen Meany years ago.  The experience left me ambivalent, without a clear feeling one way or another about the story.  Normally I utterly love or detest John Irving's books, but this one left me unsure.  I found the impetus to reread Owen Meany in signing up to lead book discussion. For me, A Prayer for Owen Meany is largely a book about anger at United States' politics and the Vietnam War.  The story told is that of the life of a unique boy named Owen Meany.  In classic Irvi


I gave my notice at work today. I first talked to the Interm Director (and fellow Reference Librarian).  She knew it was coming, particularly as she was one of my references and had gotten a call about me two days prior.  While I received the job offer yesterday I felt it was only polite to refrain from making an announcement until my boss knew.  As it turns out, the majority of the staff happened to be in for morning meeting instead of the normal handful, so I had quite a crowd for the announcement. I am excited, anxious, relieved, and a little bit guilty.  I've been at this library for three years to the day, and various issues aside, this is the first job I've held with a solid safety net and support built in.  I can't help but feel like I'm bailing on my co-workers and on the library, especially in the face of some potentially dramatic changes in structure.  The possibility that things could improve so that I could actually get to all these projects and ideas

[Book Review] Treecat Wars

Treecat Wars / David Weber & Jane M. Lindskold ( Powell's Books ) The fires are out, but the trouble's just beginning for the treecats. On pioneer planet Sphinx, ruined lands and the approach of winter force the now Landless Clan to seek new territory.  They have one big problem--there's nowhere to go.  Worse, their efforts to find a new home awaken the enmity of the closest treecat clan--a stronger group who's not giving up a single branch without a fight Stephanie Harrington, the treecats' greatest advocate, is off to Manticore for extensive training--and up to her ears in challenges there.  That leaves only Stephanie's best friends, Jessica and Anders, to save the treecats from themselves.  And now a group of xenoanthropologists is once again after the great secret of the treecats--that they are intelligent, empathic telepaths--and their agenda will lead to nothing less that treecat exploitation. Finally, Jessica and Anders face problems of thei

Color me dissatisfied

Today I got the big news!  Penguin is selling ebooks to libraries again.  Alright!  To quote the release "more than 10,000+ Penguin eBooks are now live and available" for public, college, and consortial libraries.  Ok, so it's just a selection of their titles, but better than the no purchase availability we've had in our network.  I really want to be excited about this, even if it is limited availability.  So what if there are still restrictions on transferring library loans of Penguin titles to Kindles.  The prices aren't bad either.  New releases for $18.99 and backlist in the $5.99 - $9.99 ballpark. Here's the problem: "one copy/one user lending model for a one year term" And here I've been upset about the HarperCollins 26 check out limit.  I'm still not exactly happy with the limits on HarperCollins titles, especially libraries have purchased hardcover titles from HarperCollins with lifetime warranties.  While 26 check outs is suppose

[Book Review] Warrior

Warrior (The Blades of the Rose, #1) / Zoe Archer ( Powell's Books ) To most people, the realm of magic is the stuff of nursery rhymes and dusty libraries. But for Capt. Gabriel Huntley, it’s become quite real and quite dangerous… IN HOT PURSUIT… The vicious attack Capt. Gabriel Huntley witnesses in a dark alley sparks a chain of events that will take him to the ends of the Earth and beyond—where what is real and what is imagined become terribly confused. And frankly, Huntley couldn’t be more pleased. Intrigue, danger, and a beautiful woman in distress—just what he needs. IN HOTTER WATER… Raised thousands of miles from England, Thalia Burgess is no typical Victorian lady. A good thing, because a proper lady would have no hope of recovering the priceless magical artifact Thalia is after. Huntley’s assistance might come in handy, though she has to keep him in the dark. But this distractingly handsome soldier isn’t easy to deceive… I would like this book WAY better i

Link Smorgasbord, September 16 - 22

"Sex sells. Deal with it." On overly sexual treatment and objectification of women in video games, and how lack of sex appeal does by no means damn a game to failure.  I appreciate the use of graphics in this one. Franzen on Bezos: "One of the Four Horsemen" (To me) a very powerful statement about Amazon. BiblioTech's debut set this week San Antonio, TX is now home to the U.S.'s first all-digital library.  Fantastic computer lab space, some hardware available for lending, and what ebook access they're able to offer considering how much publishers decline to sell to libraries.  A project to watch regardless of how it works out. Real names, real problems: Pseudonymity under siege Good read. Intellectual property [sic] – it’s not about property Just as this article titled "it's not about the property," this article is about more than just copyright.  Specifically it talks about copyright, copyright exemption, and accessibility fo

FYI: iOS 7 & OverDrive Media Console

It seems like library patrons who use OverDrive Media Console on Apple products may experience some difficulties after upgrading to iOS 7. At this time, if you do experience issues opening DRM protected library ebooks.  OverDrive recommends reauthorizing your app with your Adobe ID, or if that fails, uninstall and reinstall (and then reauthorize) the OverDrive Media Console app.  Reinstalling will clear your history and settings as well. The only effect reported so far for audio books is that you may have to re-download the title.  The status of app authorization does not effect library audio books.

NF Display September 2013

September was going to be "Banned Books," but last week I realized that Banned Books Week starts on the 30th so it seemed better suited to October.  Additionally our Fall Film Series theme is "Famous Faces," so I decided to match themes for the first month and do a biography display.  A general 'biography' theme makes for a fantastically easy display to assemble and therefore not a huge hassle for a last minute switch. And so, a display born of off-the-cuff recommendations and my own browse of the biography section.  A few well known names, a few less well known, celebrities, scientists, musicians, normal people with interesting lives.  I mostly avoided politicians (Victoria Woodhull as the main exception).  In the end I ended up with a range of unintended little categories - musicians, spies, cultural differences, cultural icons, hard times, scientists - that came out of my attempt to create a balanced display. "A reader lives a thousand lives befo

Staff Only Parking

Notice anything amusing?  I was amused at the very least. Here's my tip of the day, don't park in the Staff Only lot.  We know who to ask to move when our coworkers block us in, you probably don't.  Please don't get mad at us when you've already ignored the "Staff Only" sign, even if you are blocked in by two or three of us. If you don't respect the threat of a tow, please at least respect the very real threat of not being able to get your car out of the lot.

I feel kind of dirty

After today I just kind of feel dirty. I fully hold to the belief that there is nothing wrong with liking smut.  Lets be honest, I write reviews now and then for smut (and in one case then lent the smutty book to my mom).  I am pretty much of the opinion that if the involved parties are consenting and capable of said consent, have fun.  However when it really comes down to it, I just don't need to know what floats your boat.  Really, I probably have no interest in what turns you on, especially if you are one of my patrons (and that's without getting into something that I find squicky). So to start things off I think a patron decided to troll us.  At least, that would be the more... comfortable option. When someone borrows one of our ereaders (Sony or Kindle), they are allowed to purchase one title to add to our collection.  Beyond that one title they must reimburse us the cost.  Some patrons add a book, others decline to, and once in a blue moon a patron adds a handful of

Link Smorgasbord, September 9 - 15

Three-strikes laws do not reduce piracy: study *gasp* Say it isn't so! I'm sorry, was that too much sarcasm?  The system has so many flaws across the different implementations, including in actually catching infringement, and it never does to underestimate the power of bored computer geeks (plus everyone who simply doesn't consider what they're doing breaking copyright).  There are incredible misconceptions of copyright law, horrible attempts at 'scaring straight' the copyright breakers (seriously... can you actually watch the "You wouldn't steal a car" anti-piracy ads without laughing?  Also, why would I buy a pirated movie... doesn't that defeat the point?), and incredible abuses by corporate rights holders.  The US concept of "pop up warnings" is highly unsafe and a vector for malicious attacks (as if "Windows Antivirus" scams weren't enough).  That's before we get into the increasing expectation of access to

[Book Review] Crux

Crux / Ramez Naam ( Powell's Books ) "Six months have passed since the release of Nexus 5. The world is a different, more dangerous place. In the USA, the freedom fighters of the Post-Human Liberation Front use Nexus to turn men and women into human time bombs aimed at the President and his allies. The first blows in the war between human and posthuman have been struck." Humanity is evolving, the singularity is here and it is part of us.  What started as an experiment, a party drug, is now reshaping the human experience.  Children born with Nexus are reviled, scientists try to find a vaccine while Autistic children and their parents find a bridge, governments and individual want back door access for their own means.  What happens when we can become more than just human?  What happens when we can share thoughts and experiences quicker than thought? Crux asks questions about humanity, culture, and change.  It paints for us an uncomfortably plausible future and the

[Book Review] Saving Normal

Saving normal : an insider's revolt against out-of-control psychiatric diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the medicalization of ordinary life / Allen Frances ( Powell's Books ) "From "the most powerful psychiatrist in America" (New York Times) and "the man who wrote the book on mental illness" (Wired), a deeply fascinating and urgently important critique of the widespread medicalization of normality. Anyone living a full, rich life experiences ups and downs, stresses, disappointments, sorrows, and setbacks. These challenges are a normal part of being human, and they should not be treated as psychiatric disease. However, today millions of people who are really no more than "worried well" are being diagnosed as having a mental disorder and are receiving unnecessary treatment. In Saving Normal, Allen Frances, one of the world's most influential psychiatrists, warns that mislabeling everyday problems as mental illness has shocking impl

[Book Review] Codex Born

Codex Born (Magic Ex Libris #2) / Jim C. Hines ( Powell's Books ) Five hundred years ago, Johannes Gutenberg discovered the art of libriomancy, allowing him to reach into books to create things from their pages. Gutenberg’s power brought him many enemies, and some of those enemies have waited centuries for revenge. Revenge which begins with the brutal slaughter of a wendigo in the northern Michigan town of Tamarack, a long-established werewolf territory.  Libriomancer Isaac Vainio is part of Die Zwelf Portenære, better known as the Porters, the organization founded by Gutenberg to protect the world from magical threats. Isaac is called in to investigate the killing, along with Porter psychiatrist Nidhi Shah and their dryad bodyguard and lover, Lena Greenwood. Born decades ago from the pages of a pulp fantasy novel, Lena was created to be the ultimate fantasy woman, strong and deadly, but shaped by the needs and desires of her companions. Her powers are unique, and

Link Smorgasbord, September 2 - 8

RIP Frederik Pohl, the man who transformed Science Fiction Definitely a landmark author The Plan is Obsolescence - Defining our Machine Wrought Maladies Built in obsolescence isn't limited to just fancy high tech gadgets, but is something that has bothered me for as long as I can remember. mooculus Ohio State is trying the MOOC learning platform whole hog with this calculus offering, including free textbook. Amazon Kindle MatchBook bundles ebooks with print purchases Hey, something Amazon is doing that I like.  Of course, they'll get all the credit for something that a UK publisher has been doing for a year now (except Angry Robot doesn't charge for the ebook copy). Clonefiles Totally linked twice here, but I have also been highly impressed with the titles that I have read by Angry Robot, so they're getting extra love from me.  If you like science fiction and fantasy I seriously recommend checking out Angry Robot's title list. Ministry of Sound sues

How to borrow library ebooks through OverDrive, or, I finally updated these dratted things

Did you know that you can borrow ebooks (and digital audio books) from the library?  I'm guessing you don't normally read my blog if that's the case.  I kind of natter on about it a lot. Well, in C/W MARS member libraries (Central and Western Massachusetts) have a shared OverDrive (our platform vendor for ebooks, downloadable audio books, and video) collection that can be found here .  Some individual libraries have additional collections through other vendors, but the focus here is on OverDrive. For various reasons I have been editing, and then creating completely new, instructions for using our OverDrive collection with various devices for about two years now.  The person who had previous created the handouts for the network got a fabulous new job sometime between Amazon deciding to recalcitrantly play ball and the development of a mobile app.  We had a need, so I went ahead and filled it.  I started with her work as a frame and went from there.  Fortunately I li

Link Smorgasbord, August 26 - September 1

Libraries in New York City: Why We Give a Damn and Why You Should Too  Pretty self-explanatory title. Heroes of Copyright Infringement – The Photographer litigation against SyFy/NBC  So yes, I do post lots of links about how big companies use copyright law like a huge stick and others about wanting less restrictive copyright.  I'm not against copyright, I just feel our system is broken.  What my stance on copyright really boils down to is "don't be a dick" - and this case for me falls under that category.  Similarly I took offesne when Glee lifted Jonathan Coulton's cover of "Baby Got Back" and used it without attribution, even though due to the type of license he used for the cover they were technically within their rights to do what they did. Board doesn't use the library Speaking of "don't be a dick," I wish I could say that this surprised me.  In reality this is a common and widespread issue, and it drives me crazy.  It perha

I made beer!

So awhile back I wrote about my clumsy attempt to brew my first beer . Fortunately it seems beer is rather forgiving, and I have to say unsealing the bucket after a month of studiously not investigating and having it smell like a good beer was amazing.  Of course, it wasn't ready to drink yet; I still had to add a simple syrup, rack it off, then let it sit for a few weeks. With a bottling bucket, racking off isn't that bad of a process.  Yes, kegging would be quicker but I don't have the resources to get into that at this time and bottles are more mobile.  I did start out trying to use my siphon set up and soon gave up.  I probably did stir up the sediment somewhat, so I will have to be more careful about that next time.  For the most part it was very easy leave the sediment behind when pouring into the bottling bucket.  I may try my uncle's trick of pouring through panty hose to filter next time. A few things I did learn from this (and from asking questions since a

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll

Reading belongs in the sentence "...Sex, drugs and rock and roll..." somewhere. It's a mind altering state just as potent as any other. - Scott Kenyon