Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Triumph of Hope over Experiences: New Year's Resolutions '12

I have a history of coming up with amazing New Year's resolutions, then not doing them. Imagine that! Of course, I understand that there is research out there indicating that NYRs may be both unhealthy and unachievable, but as a Diet Coke addict I've never let that sort of thing get in my way! Anyway, I'm hoping that posting these here on ID will help keep me accountable, and maybe I'll even post an update or two as the year goes on.

Resolutions for 2012

1. Exercise more. I've located my FitBit charger and I'll be using the FitBit in 2012 to try to keep track of my steps. In the past when I've used it, I have walked more, so I hope this will continue. We have a treadmill, an exercise bike, and those rubber bandy things,  so even if the weather outside is frightful I have no excuses!
2. Create more. That means writing, drawing, or painting every day. I'm taking an online class on journaling with water colors in late January; I have this and other blogs, including my Lorena's Recent and Retro Reads book review blog; I have ideas for at least two academic articles I'd like to write. So - plenty of opportunity! (Notice that I didn't say any of it (except the articles of course!) had to be good...)
3. Eat better. Mark and I both could stand to lose a few pounds, and we don't eat as well as we should. So - more cooking and more vegetables. And if I'm gonna eat the sweet stuff I love so dearly, at least I can try to make it myself.
4. Go (more)  paperless. I've spent the last few days trying to bring some order to my work and home offices, and I am innundated with paper. I have an eyepad; I have a scanner, I have a smartphone. I have Evernote, Zotero, Diigo, Delicious, Google Docs, the knowledge to easily convert things to be comfortably read on my digital devices, and a host of other tools that can substitute for piles of unorganized and unsearchable processed wood pulp. All I need is to create a workflow...

OK, that's it! I'm not looking to change the world in 2012,  or become amazing - I just want to fix a few things around my physical and mental edges. So come on, new year - let's give it a whirl and see how it goes!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Of Photos and Facebook...

Image Credit: Me (really probably my mom)
As a teen and in my college days, I loved taking pictures with my sucession of inexpensive Instamatic cameras. The whole family would see them, or all my college friends. I can remember sitting with my mom and looking through family albums and hearing stories, or just looking at my own album every so often. There was a period when I didn't take many pictures, but when I moved to Oregon with my job at Project Vote Smart, I started again, and then took even more when Mark and I got together. We had a wedding album, and an everything-else album, but after a while the pictures would be viewed and then put in a shoe box. Eventually our camera broke, and we talked about getting a digital camera, but somehow my enthusiasm for taking pictures had gone away. Mark and I rarely saw our family, and we didn't have kids - all I could think of was putting more pictures in that shoebox that would be thrown away when we were dead and gone. Sure, we scanned a picture every now and then and emailed it to family, but it was clunky. I ended up getting a free Sony camera through credit card points, and played with it a bit while I was couch-bound after Broken Ankles '05 - even posting a few pictures on Flickr that no one I knew ever saw.

Then came Facebook and Twitter. All of a sudden it was a very different story, especially after the introduction of FB's streaming updates. Now I had somewhere to post my pictures and people would see them and comment on them. I started taking pictures again, and eventually got a feature phone that enabled me to automatically send picture to my Wall - replaced with a smartphone in 2010. I put my pictures on Facebook, and also collect them for use in teaching and presentations. Which brings me to Facebook's new Timeline. My prediction...lots of people are going to be looking at (and scannng) old pictures over the next few weeks as they fill out their Facebook Timeline. Here's hoping for some fun bonding time during the holidays as families and friends gather around old photo albums (and shoeboxes!) sharing stories in the process! I know some people are concerned about privacy implications, but the way I figure it it is an opt-in service. Social media gave me back something I really value, and I'm looking forward to filling in my own Timeline...eventually!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Adoption Blues...

 I think my folks subscribed to Smithsonian Magazine practically all my life, and my mom gives us a yearly subscription as a gift for my husband. Why am I telling you this? First, because I love knowing what magazines people read, myself- I think its one of those markers, like the condition of your top bedroom bureau drawer, or the inside of your bathroom cupboards (both of which would tell you horrible things about me...) -- but also because last weekend I finally went through a huge pile of papers in my study and found a small "to blog" pile that included the page in the photo next to this. Every so often, our new monthly issue has a cover with this on the back:  Adopt-A-Library by giving them a subscription to Smithsonian Magazine (and save some on your own next renewal). You can specify a library, or have the Smithsonian people select the place for you.

The text notes that "under the pressure of difficult budget restrictions, we have watched with dismay as the number of library subscriptions has dwindled and as fewer and fewer students and members of the general public have access to Smithsonian."  Yeah, I can definitely attest to that. But...

Libraries (and other organizations) have long had programs for donors to give books, databases, benches, and building wings, but this is the first time I've seen a concerted effort to encourage people to give specific subscriptions. Note that they are not asking you to give your own copies of Smithsonian to your local library after you've read them (many magazines and journals have rules against that, actually -- and it can be quite problematic for your library as well).

I'm a bit ambivalent about this. It's absolutely true that Smithsonian is a high quality and engaging magazine. It's also true that libraries' journals budgets are imploding (reduced budgets and annual inflationary increases see to that) but I'm not sure that donations of specific titles by individuals is the way to respond. First, based on my own history, I can see a kind giver just forgetting to re-subscribe the next year, or perhaps having to pinch a few more pennies...

But really, I wonder if I'd rather see concerned library communities, and members of the community, work to improve the budgetary outlook of libraries so that libraries can choose what to purchase based on their established selection criteria and have it done through established vendors and workflows (and I have to note that I don't really know how this program works, and the folks at Smithsonian may very well have a list of libraries that subscribed in the past but had to cancel due to budgetary issues).  On the other hand, an issue of Smithsonian in the hand of a 15-year-old or a 60-year-old is worth a bunch of abstract idealism in the bush, too. It makes me very sad that things have come to this.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Comics Exhibit Pictures...

I never got around to posting pictures of my comics exhibit (which is still up at WSU's Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections) , but you can see some fragment of the posters and exhibit cases at  Steve Willis' (Morty the Dog) blog: (Steve is a comics creator who specializes in minicomix, and a former cataloging librarian at WSU - and he has a *great* blog!). Steve's work is in the exhibit, of course!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Almost Naturally Writing Using NaturallySpeaking...

So last September I tripped and fell and sprained both of my wrists. I had a lot going on so it as I found it very difficult to type I decided to look for a new option and I bought a copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 11 voice recognition software and installed it on my work computer. I wasn't really sure how was going to work out, but I have to say that it was just great -- it was relatively easy to train it to understand the words that I was using and the commands made sense after a while. I confess (um, Drago caught this as "can fast") that I don't use any of the really detailed commands yet, but I actually figured out pretty easily how to make it work for most of the sort of things that I can do. It's nice that in addition to using it to write down text as I speak it, I can also make it work with programs such as my Microsoft Outlook e-mail or Internet browsers, and even manipulate documents in Microsoft Word. Today I finally installed it at home (my version of Dragon allows me to have a copy at work and a copy at home) and I'm actually using it to type up this post. I did have to do some editing - sometimes I use Dragon's editing ability but honestly most of the time it's actually easier to edit manually. But it still saves time! And wrists! Something that I found very interesting was that it was actually harder to write to compose that I thought it would be. It turns out that I had actually trained myself to do academic writing or work-related writing by actually outlining and writing things down and it was difficult to actually think it and say what I needed to say -- the physical act of writing served as a  graphic organizer as it were and switching to Dragon meant that I had to move toward some sort of a cognitive or aural (do I mean oral?) organizer. anyway I've been very happy with Dragon NaturallySpeaking and I look forward to using it even more in composition as I am slowly over time becoming more comfortable with composing as I write I do have to say the one thing that it is amazing forward is to actually read a paragraph out of a book or magazine article or document to convert it to text for incorporating it in something that you're writing. Hmmm... As I look over what I said and Dragon has written it makes me think about the difference between spoken text in written text because I can see that this is actually expressed in a different way than I probably would've expressed it if I had actually written it rather than spoken it.