4.8.09

Pita Pit on Mag has great customer service, et. al.

Boys, and girls, get your gyros and eggs wrap edibles at Magazine's finest establishment: the Pita Pit. Now, I know I am biased because Ryan works there but you can just suck my left kneecap if you don't like my product placement. Airplane Ryan G-Dog is the only one allowed to call me fagasaurus.

Now for my girl Taryn at PJs: here she is writing the next big novel. She tells me it is about a naive flight attendant who gets flak from her boss and takes refuge on a crazy, romantic mis-adventure in Paris. I cannot wait to read the finished copy Taryn!
Taryn is actually a novelist. Don't let her make you believe that she is a UPS employee.

Now the funny part is Ryan (Airplane) is not really a Pita Pit employee but rather an iconoclastic social critic who reads Lacan with the same voraciousness as a pissing horse.




This photograph is very good: it shows my two cousins, Zack and Elliot playfully fighting.

Hey Zack: you will make a great daddy one day!



Hey Elliot: one day you will have guns too!



And last but not least: here is Jonathan getting ready for his big interview. He recently got a job at a Credit Union and I thought he would think it sweet that I posted it here because he has been such a diligent reader of this blog. Thanks, John!

Old tech librarians are not complaining, just saying the future will be “a lot more crazy change.”

When researching this blog post on the future of information technology, drinking a cup of coffee, I assumed I would find happy Web 2.0 advocates (and excited librarians for Web 3.0) proudly discussing new trends in the field of library and information science.
While one may find an uncommon, optimistic librarian, like this very optimistic teacher hilariously touting “digital citizenship,” this is not always the case. The professionals are not completely pessimistic but many question their identities as librarians and feel ALA has lost its verve a long time ago. Blogs written by professionals in the field joke about technology and some write objectively about new advancements. Whether it is tongue in cheek or written in nebulous prose, an RSS feed of good blogs give a decent feel for the current pulse. Thinking intuitively as I read blog posts, I sense librarians blasé about the newest trends, even to the point of mocking librarians who seem to spend their hard-earned MLIS degrees serving adolescent teens wanting to get on Second Life (an online simulated world like The Sims) or acquiring a trendy gaming system at their local library rather than true grit research or simply finding information for their homework. Consider the Annoyed Librarian’s humorous quips. She or he is one of the tech bloggers I am talking about: seriously knowledgeable about trends but seriously opinionated about it too! S/he has a spoof virtual reference desk called Library Five-O to share with the world: to search the library’s OPAC go to Amazon; If you need a reference question answered, go to Google; if you want to consult an encyclopedia go to Wikipedia; Need storytime for the kids? Go to Youtube!
Librarians are in a predicament because on the one hand, librarianship is a civic idea, designed to simply provide information no matter how glitzy. Librarians are somehow also supposed to package technological finds in attractive ribbons to make it more palpable to the masses. He uses a marketing strategy from Trent Reznor (of Metallica fame). Reznor apparently draws consumers by throwing thumb drives to fans replete with songs and allowing free downloading of podcasts on the Metallica web site. Should the technological librarian do the same and follow the “Trent Reznor Experience?” Is it true the technological library ought to be built according to the equation CwC + Rtb = a dynamic library. Where CwC is “connect with community” and RtU is “reason to use.”
It seems to me tech does not necessitate community. A community has to pre-suppose tech. If there is initially no community then technology will not work -- or worse. create a false community. Although, I don't agree with everything he said. a prelate from Britain talks about the dangers of pseudo-communities on the internet. Although I do not agree that Facebook and myspace lead children to commit suicide. But. I am not going to get into that here. Back to libraries.
The disconnect between librarian’s professional identities and community needs is widening. It is no wonder there is a common collective exasperation in the professional library world when it comes to advances in technology. The pioneers of information technology reminisce about their first foray into the technological world of librarianship when computers first became standard in local public libraries and schools. Now that most libraries have computer labs and most librarians are expected to have some kind of computer skill, the once optimistic and forward-thinking attitudes librarians dreamed of has become a reality. But, with more advances, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to integrate new trends without a full-time systems librarian on hand. Not all librarians are systems librarians, but because librarianship has become so permeated by technology, every librarian has to have not only working knowledge of the principles of librarianship, or even working knowledge of information literacy, BUT working knowledge of how to use and implement information technologies. Librarians are becoming exasperated because librarianship has become ipso facto systems work. It is no longer feasible to be purely analog these days; a librarian has to not only be able to evaluate an HTML page but also create one.
Also, librarians are not necessarily happy about new technological advances. Some are nostalgic for the old days of technology when things were simpler! Stephen’s Lighthouse has on his blog a link to a Wired magazine article about “100 technological advances our kids do not know about” And another link to “50 gadgets from the past”! Sadly, VHS players and stamp vending machines are now as nostalgic as jukeboxes and BETA. I hate bloggers who bemoan the imminent loss of LCD displays, music CDs, Anti-Virus software and stamp vending machines. But, thankfully, one techie admonishes her readers that obsolescence is necessary for innovation (sorry, if you can find the origin of this phrase I will kiss your left nut).

But, anyway, what do you do with those people who just won’t give up their tried and true, who stick to the obsolete? Fire them? And even the most dogged among us still want our traditions. We have reached a point in information technology when we can be nostalgic. With librarians chucking their VHS tapes for DVDs some wonder when they will have to yet again overhaul the collection for the newest digital format. And God bless the library who invested in Beta or Super 8 tracks! The ephemeral nature of free Web 2.0 products and services that libraries often utilize sometimes fail. If a web 2.0 company busts, then all the work and content is lost related to the service. One example is Mag.nolia, a popular social bookmarking web site that folded recently (thanks to information wants to be free!). Once a library adopts a free service (like Wet Paint or even Google Docs) the workload is sometimes doubled especially when a new version comes out that negates previous work or newer operating systems cannot read older files.

Then there is the talk about the future of technology that is more speculation than actual hard technology. Mash-up is the new way of talking about technology. All one has to do is imagine what the future of the book will be like, as in a mash-up of a future e-book reader in this youtube video. The utopian world of book size screens that act as iPhones; the ability to flick through pages with the flick of tap; the ability to scan a book at the bookstore and have it sent to your e-reader; super thin e-readers that allow you to zoom; edit content; add notes with a stylus and more are all utopian ideas librarians talk about but no on really believes these new technologies will not come without a price.


But before we get to the utopia librarians dream some librarians think up I think we need to get people to do a simple, effective Google search. We have a long way to go before technology utopia. I mean, come on, let us be caustic: most folks don't know fuck. It is so fail. Sorry. I mean, it is not always people: the internet is fail. For the most advanced among us, the ostensibly easy "task" is fricking difficult. I want library 3.0. Sure. But, something has to happen. Get rid of proprietary bullshit and let the memes run the show.

Why I hate Wikipedia naysayers and why tutoring sucks


LIS 501 Reference and Information Services

I got an "A" in my LIS class.
I am happy because this is a sign that I am on the right career track. Now, I just have to get my FAFSA shit together and I am set for success. That, and I need to apply to some Ph.D. programs. I have until December. If you have any Ph.D. programs that feature both philosophy, literature and theory, let me know. But, that is a conundrum for another blog post.

I am glad the group projects in the online lit class did not bring me down. I was disappointed that one of our group wiki projects bombed. We had to create a survey of ready reference websites. We chose LGBT as our topic but quickly realized it was TOO hard to find Ready Reference for that topic.

But, you know, let me digress a bit.
Ready Reference ClarificationsI disagree with traditional definitions of ready reference. It is erroneous and limiting to assert that a source is a ready reference and ready reference only. I disagree with ready reference shelves. If you are going to have a Ready Reference shelf: make it an almanac. Ready Reference depends on the needs of the user. For example, Wikipedia is a ready reference at times, especially for cursory questions like, "which movie won the academy award for best picture in 1939?". But at other times Wikipedia attempts to answer encyclopedic questions and users are prompted to follow the links at the bottom of the page.

Why I love Wikipedia
I love Wikipedia no matter what the nay-sayers say. Even Lexis-Nexis with all of its pizazz has corrupted data. And EBSCO does not always transcribe information correctly. I have not done the pre-requisite research, but data loss in huge conglomerate databases is probably under-reported. I mean, you hear about glitches in Google book scan where technician's hands cover up text, but other than that, most people blindly assume that for the most part subscription databases are accurate. I mean, I want to see people hooraying for open source databases and open-source directories like www.dmoz.org and www.lii.org. Instead of demeaning Wikipedia, let us try to create more critical thinkers, which won't be easy because I mean, like, look at all the people who blindly believe mass forwarded emails warning against a virus. The one deterrent to accuracy is people are more willing to believe something they read based on fear rather than reason. I mean ever since that movie Taken came out, young women are not traveling to Paris anytime soon. But, anyway, the other wikis went over well and I was so happy with the class as a whole. Hooray for the University of Southern Mississippi School of Library and Information Science!

I am taking cataloging this Fall. I think I am in for a rude awakening because
everything I know about cataloging is so organic. Greig is set to FAIL!

Speaking of FailI got a tutoring job last week. Made 25 dollars helping this crazy guy prepare for his GRE test. Here is my advertisement on Craigslist. Send it to your needy friends.
Man, you gotta be careful who you instruct through craigslist job spots. This dude is veritably crazy. Thank you very much. He acted like he was doing me a favor allowing me to tutor him in writing. He did play the piano for me in his apartment and sang mellifluously but hey, I am here to tutor, not hang around for a social call. He wrote to me today informing me he was going to prepare for the GRE himself. He was odd. I hope my next set of students fair better than this one. I think I am going to gamble that 25 dollars on the video slots to at least try to milk it for what's it worth. Or lose it.

Future Blog Posts: Siggraph 2009 and Dirty Linen Night
So looking forward to Siggraph 2009 in New Orleans. I promise a blog from there as well as a blog on Dirty Linen Night this Saturday on Royal street.
Note: picture co-opted from http://www.legendarytimes.com/images/news/book2.jpg. Used without permission

2.8.09

New Orleans looks oddly vanilla on White Linen Night.

I had come to expect loosely populated streets this summer, especially downtown, where normally Canal street is mediocre, even with the Insectarium, Aquarium and Casino traffic. The side streets of downtown, namely Julia, were hopping tonight. Art vendors swung open their doors and people strolled through, wearing their finest white attire (and some with no attire), wishing they could afford original art. I had never been to white linen night. So when Tony called, while I was at home camming on Stickam talking about video games and cell phone covers with a guy from Missouri, I decided to go. He was funny because he was streaming his live camera from a cell phone cover store. His shop is in an Army PX. He would talk to me and the others in the room and then, without a hitch, Say, “hello. How can I help you?” Then you would hear the chatter of customer talk. No one knew his laptop, stowed low on the cashier counter, held such voyeurism, including his queer boss. Only once did someone discover it: “So what you got there?” quipped a girl who had violated the sacred space between customer and proprietor. My friend told the girl, “I am on camera with my friends.” She was happy with that answer. But, this story is a story within a story. With Tony's call, I had to pull myself out of cyber world (which has composed my summer existence). I want to write a book about Stickam but that is another story.

Let us talk about White Linen:


One gallery had a red carpet leading through its front doors with fake paparazzi taking our pictures. Instantly, of course, I thought of Lady Gaga. Even though New Orleans for me has never been associated in my mind with the glitz of Hollywood; it was nice to pretend. I wonder if Lady Gaga was at White Linen Night? She certainly could have fallen from a downtown condo similar to one in her video. The PAPA - PAPA razzi of the night mainly concerned local art. The Ogden was open as well as the Contemporary Art Center. We had not had this kind of art focus on Julia since Prospect One closed down shop in January. And of course, there is Art for Art’s Sake on Magazine. Difference: White Linen had no FREE booze. Not even water!

I heard there used to be free booze and cheese, but now, you gotta pay. Sucks. Even though the city is candidly an art gallery in of itself, the nights we dedicate specifically to art are special. A sketch of an alligator with two heads, to show a difference in motion: one head its jaw open, the other, its jaw closed, blood dripping from its mouth, called “In Remembrance of Jacko.” I wonder if the title was added as a dedication after Jacko’s death or before?
Now you could say the mass of white bedecked linens strolling Julia were Middle Class. Maybe upper middle-class white folk — like me! — who do not have original art pieces hanging in their homes — but it did strike me as funny the white in white linen also reflected race: I saw maybe three non-caucasions the entire night.



I made two faux pas at White Linen night:

1. I called a lady a bitch because she would not let me drink a glass of red wine in her store. Whatever happened to the congenial tradition of booze and art? She heard me but did not respond. I was a tad bit buzzed. One reason I am going straight to the burning flames when I cease to exist.
2. I took a photograph of some chick dressed in a peacock. See pictures. She was very angry at me. So, I post her here.




Anyway, thank you, White Linen, for giving me a reason to post on Blogger.


Look at all the wine we drank at W.I.N.O. Miss Mae was heartily happy to drink some red. Tony luxuriated in the semi-port we drank. The machines are way cool. To drink some red or white, you simply pre-pay or put a card at the cashier. They give you a plastic W.I.N.O card. Simply place the card in a slot, position your glass at an angle, press one, two, or three ounces and frothy goodness flows forth. Miss Mae and I spent forty dollars between the two of us in probably forty-five minutes.
We drank from these bottles: I guess I could make this a wine blog and go into each one’s specific gustation, but I won’t here. 1.) I am tired and 2.) It is not my intent.

Now, I guess one could argue just buying a bottle of nice wine and sharing it is more economical than guzzling choice ounces but one pays for the experience.

And, as Miss Mae told me as we walked away from Julia street: “You are the consummate English major, always living to write about a new experience."
Ain't that the truth. I am seriously thinking of writing about Stickam. I have that text novel going but I have no idea where to go with it. Maybe John will have some ideas. :-)

6.7.09

Six words memoirs about personally influential people (without names)

I teach high school level English classes at a private school in New Orleans. I often use "six-word memoirs" in the classroom. The idea is simple. Ask your students to describe themselves in six words. It has to be six! Articles count. You can extend it to include a six-word description of a person, an object, a place (really, anything) only using six words. Here are some model six-word "stories" I made about people I know. 
A prose roster of influential people using the seven-word memoir concept:
He is my occasional problem solver.
***

A woman to a special man.
***
A gentle giant whom I love.
***
A sweet soul soon to blossom.
***
We would have babies together but...
***
Amazing: different paths but still friends.
She teaches me Library Science know-how.
***
In desire, I play dead! Sucks!
***

A spit of French and red.
***
A caustic soul: will he bloom?
***
His crushes are epic and sudden.
***
Have never met: only in dreams.
Unfortunately, he is the secret keeper.
               ***

A child-man with a new soul.
***
This guy is no longer haunted.
***
Brother for true to each other.
***
Taught the wonders of boolean operators.
***
The best lunches ever: learned tons.

Here's another variation on this theme: 500 People in 100 seconds.
A librarian sent this to me. Check out the three-layered story structure. Very cool. Kudos for creativity and fun.

2.7.09

Visiting the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans

The Insectarium is housed in the Old Customs House
on Canal Street in New Orleans

On the first floor of the Custom House on Canal Street in New Orleans, the Audubon Institute opened the city’s first insectarium. For twelve years the insectarium has been in the works behind the scenes and finally opened its doors to the public last week. I went with my cousin Ian on Tuesday to visit the array of ants, patent leather beetles, butterflies, and katydids. 
Ants go marching . . .

I was impressed by the ant farm. Along a wall in the museum’s main hallway has been constructed a sizable ant farm that spans about ten or more feet (I’m just guessing here). I was ready to spot the queen ant in her chambers but I could not find her but one of the museum volunteers told me that she is known to appear every once in a while but is usually surrounded by her ardent followers. Apparently, she is moved from chamber to chamber every once in a while and the lucky visitor who happens to be present can witness the event, but alas we were not fortunate enough to witness the royal entourage.
On the day we visited the insectarium, the black widow spider seemed to be missing. Ian and I looked for her but we could not find her, only an empty web. Hopefully, she did not escape! We informed the entomologist standing nearby and he said they were aware of the fact and were hoping she was hiding and not escaping.
Of course, the insectarium boasts the usual array of bugs: spiders, cockroaches, beetles galore, including the impressive diving beetle. One of the nice things about the insectarium is that it provides a place to view all of these bugs without fighting the urge to stomp on one of them. Probably, if I ever see a black widow spider coming my way, I am not going to point at it red belly and say, “look at that hour-glass shape, how fascinating!” I am going to either run away or defend myself. At the insectarium, however, the need for man to defend himself in his natural environment goes away, and I can safely admire the termites and cockroaches, without wondering if I should call Terminix (who happens to be a major sponsor for the insectarium).
Kids gawk at the Insectarium
I could have done without Joan Riversfly done up like a bug and yakking about insects on a big screen TV. And I did think some of the exhibits were lackluster, especially the underground gallery which was supposed to make you feel like you were bug-sized. Either I didn’t get it or my imagination has run dry. Also, the honey bee exhibit should be at the same size as the ant farm: huge. But, hey, it was still cool watching a few bees gather their nectar and return to a very small hive.
The most impressive gallery was the butterfly gallery. The first part is the metamorphosis gallery. Here, you can see all the stages in their natural glory. It was really fascinating to look at the butterflies lined up in their various stages of metamorphosis. It still boggles my mind that a caterpillar can change from a lumpy piece of fat into a diaphanous spectacle in a matter of days. Wow. 
A museum interpreter answers questions.
I think of metamorphosis as a different form of birth, I guess. The human baby comes out of the womb wet and hairless and over time grows up and after a while looks quite different from the infant he or she once was. But with a caterpillar, it is quite a different story. They basically turn from one species to another. But, I guess it would be like if a human baby was born looking like a fetus. When it was born it would pretty much act like a caterpillar: slow-moving and eating a lot. In the human’s case that would mean a plentitude of milk and baby food as it fattened up and then curled up into a leathery cocoon for a few weeks only to emerge a post-pubescent, adult-ready human. Mothman, anyone? I am kind of glad, though that puberty is not as bad as metamorphosis would probably be. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be if you entered the pupa stage like in the middle of gym class? Gross …
Can you name the butterflies?
After the metamorphosis gallery, we were gladly marshaled into the butterfly gallery where you can watch the insects flutter about in an oriental style garden complete with music and coy fish swimming in an ornate pond. It was a nice way to end the visit to the museum.
I highly recommend this museum. It is fun and freaky. I think any age group would find it interesting and enjoyable. The price is about 15 dollars for adults and I forget how much it is for children under the age of twelve, but hey, I was not looking. You can get an insectarium + zoo + aquarium package but I would not rush your insect trip. Take your time and enjoy the bugs!