Monday, December 21, 2009

Browser Statistics

Interesting trend going on here. It's good so see Firefox closing the gap.

Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Browser Market Share

Monday, November 23, 2009

Downtown Panorama

Downtown Panorama
Originally uploaded by zzazazz
The other day I went driving around town and was looking for a spot to do a panorama from. I found this spot here that gave me a view of downtown I hadn't seen before.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


You may not believe it but being a librarian isn't all about learning how to use the current social media technology, helping people apply for jobs online and blogging about video games. We also find time to read occasionally.

I've started and stopped a couple of books recently. I was getting antsy because I was having trouble find a book to really focus on. I started one the other day that had been sitting on my desk for a few weeks and it has really grabbed me. The book is a science fiction novel called Orbital Resonance by John Barnes. It's the story of 13-year-old girl living on a space station that has been fashioned out of an asteroid. Asteroid space stations were created to grow food for a planet Earth that has ruined itself through war and disease. The children the book focuses on are the first generation born on the space station and their lives are nothing more than attending a grueling schooling that is preparing them to continue the work of the space stations. I can't believe I've never heard of this book before. There's so much I don't know.

There are two new novels that I am greatly anticipating getting my hands on, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Coincidentally, both books are steampunk. I've read one book by each of these authors in the last couple of years. Westerfeld's Peeps is a vampire novel that truly has a unique take on the vampire story and Priest's Fathom which is a great take on the old gods subgenre of science fiction. Priest has the distinction of being pimped by both Warren Ellis and John Scalzi. It looks like steampunk may soon become the new vampire so this is a good chance to read some good steampunk before every hack in the world starts pumping them out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My booktalk audience

My booktalk audience
Originally uploaded by zzazazz
About twice a year I go to Merrrywood, a retirement community on Park Rd, to give a half hour booktalk. I've been doing this for about five years now and I still get a little nervous before I start. It's always a challenge for me to deliver a talk to these residents and come off sounding like I know what I am talking about. I never assume to know what I am talking about but it's nice if others think so.

Having to give booktalks here has forced me to broaden my reading a bit. I can't go in there each time with my usual mixture of World War II, science fiction and baseball books. I am always on the lookout for a book that I will enjoy and that I can use for material when I go to Merrywood. Robert Harris, whose book Pompeii I loved, is a perfect example of a writer who writes books I love that I can use when booktalking.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Twittering Library

We are trying that new social media thing. I've had a personal Twitter account for a while now. I've been having a grand old time annoying my friends with it. We decided to create an account for the Morrison Library. You can view our Twitter page here. We're trying to build an online community to interact with. We've already arranged to have some guerilla art left in the branch, recommended a CD from our collection and shared a couple of quotes with a quote lover. I hope we can get some library users to join us in our experiment.

We are also on Facebook. A lot of our Facebook entries mirror what we Twitter but we are there too if you want to be a fan. While on Facebook just do a search for Morrison Library and you should find us pretty easily.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Morrison Library is on Twitter

Our username is morrisonlibrary and we've just started. We hope to start interacting with your library users that way. I think it'll be fun if we get some participation. Maybe we can even do reference questions...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back from Vacation

I got back from vacation Monday. I drove to northern Michigan. That's where I was raised. I have been posting pictures from my trip on my personal blog. You can see them here if you are interested.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

New fun stuff on Wolfram Alpha

A while back I mentioned the new search engine Wolfram Alpha in a post. According to what they've been writing on their blog they are constantly upgrading the searches you can do on it. Now you can do word searches. Someday the internet will come to my house and read to me.
New fun stuff on WolframAlpha

A while back I mentioned the new search engine Wolfram Alpha in a post. According to what they've been writing on their blog they are constantly upgrading the searches you can do on it. Now you can do word searches. Someday the internet will come to my house and read to me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Fun with Twitter

Yesterday I sent out a Twitter message concerning the location of the local Goodwill computer store. I did not expect the response I received, from the Goodwill people. They must monitor any tweets concerning Goodwill and respond to any that may have questions they can answer. Very smart use of Twitter.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tweet of the Day

While finishing up the research for a class I am teaching this Wednesday on internet searching I came across this great Twitter message about how the library can save you money.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Library Summer Hours

Library Summer Hours
Originally uploaded by zzazazz
Just in case you missed the sign as you came into the library recently, here are our summer hours.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Word Website

Thanks to the mighty Metafilter I came across a new word website today. It is called Wordnik. According to the website they are "ongoing project devoted to discovering all the words and everything about them." I like this site. Check out the entry for frog. It gives you the word's appearance in public domain documents at Gutenberg site, several definition options, a recorded pronunciation, occurrences of the word in Twitter posts, synonyms and images from Flickr. Pretty impressive.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Garden

Entrance Garden
Originally uploaded by zzazazz
As you come in the building you can see our garden. For the last two years the garden has been the brainchild and project of one of our librarian's, Kate.

This is a stitch of three photographs. I used the free software called Autostitch. It's a great tool.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We’ve been banished from an Eden of oscillation

Science fiction writer, John Scalzi, regularly allows guests to write an entry on his blog. It's usually a novelist who has a new book coming out. This week China Mieville breaks down the crime novel. Great stuff.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Search Engine

Have ya'll heard about the new search engine called Wolfram Alpha? It's designed to give you answers instead of linking you to websites. I was messing around with it today and plugged my birthday date in. It will also compute fairly complex searches like largest countries by area in Africa. You can also compare different states or countries by entering them and separating them by commas. I did California, Michigan and North Carolina here. If you look near the bottom you can see it generated a graph comparing the population growth of all three states. I am going to use it for reference questions at work and see how it does me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another Wikipedia Story

There is good advice in this article on a hoax played by a Wikipedia user. We use Wikipedia here at the library a lot. It's most useful to me as a tool to start a search. A lot of times a teenager will come up to the reference desk and say something like, "I have to do a report on Some King III." You can then ask the kid who this person is and a lot of times he'll have no idea. You can plug that name in Wikipedia and then you'll know where to start looking. I can tell if this person has enough renown to warrant a full biography or if I'll have to grab a book on his country's history and look the person up in the index.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Philip Pullman Interview

A couple of months ago I read The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. Quite a few people whose opinions I respect had raved about it so I took the plunge. I was a marvelous book and I thought I would share an interview with him that I found here.

Monday, May 04, 2009

View from the Morrison Circulation Desk

If ever wondered what the view was like from behind the circulation desk.
Dracula as it Happens

I've seen similar projects before but this is kinda cool. This blog is posting each journal entry from the novel Dracula on the corresponding day. It started yesterday, May 3rd. Think of it as a blog from the past.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Where be the Swine Flu?

If you are an amateur flu sleuth or just plain scared out of your wits see the map below.

View H1N1 Swine Flu in a larger map

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Email tips

I found a nice tip sheet on writing efficient emails on the mighty Lifehacker website just now. You can read the article here. The main tip, pointed out in the Lifehacker entry, is to always revise. I try to remember to do that myself as much as possible. My favorite trick for proof reading is read what I wrote backwards. Start with the last sentence and move up the document. When you take what you wrote out of context it's easier to find errors. When you read a document from start to finish your brain edits and puts in words that aren't there because you expect them to be there.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Gmail at Five Years

I hope everyone on the face of the earth has a Google email account by now. If you are still using Yahoo email just because you have been for ten years go ahead and make that switch. The sooner you do it the easier it will be to make the transition. Gmail is worth it just for their superior spam filtering software. I found an interview with Gmail's Senior Product Manager (what does that mean?) that's informative. Another reason to try Gmail is that it's always evolving. There's always something new to play with on it but it never changes so much to where you feel like you have to re-learn how to do the basic stuff. Gmail: It's Fun!

For further reading I found a history of Gmail written up at Thanks to the mighty Lifehacker for the link.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Who is Really Who on those Social Websites?

I found a good website via the Charlotte Observer yesterday. This site, called Valebrity, verifies whether or not that celebrity's Twitter, Myspace, Facebook or Bebo page really belongs to who claims it. There are a few fake celebrity accounts out there so Valebrity offers a unique service. The only celebrities I follow on Twitter are a couple of writers and funny ladies, Paula Poundstone and Joan Rivers and funny man, John Cleese. I may drop Joan Rivers, mostly what she does is pimp her QVC appearances. If you just have to follow one celebrity on Twitter may I recommend Paula Poundstone? Her tweets are pretty clever.

I was pleased to see that all of the famous people I have followed on Twitter have turned up to be real. I was pretty confident of that anyway because I had verified these were real accounts by visiting the webpages of each person I followed. It seems that is pretty much what this website does.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A day trip to Asheville, NC

Getting up at 6 am and driving two hours may not be ideal but when you get to spend the day at a great workshop and your lunch hour and breaks taking panoramic shots of downtown Asheville then the day could be worse. It's impossible for me to say how much I love downtown Asheville.

I took this shot out behind the Pack Memorial Library in Asheville.
Another Asheville Panorama

This was taken by the Civic Center. I saw Bob Dylan and Tom Waits at the Civic Center. If you look closely in the right of the photo you can see someone being interviewed by local television.
Asheville Panorama

Sunday, March 22, 2009

An Open Letter to Local High School Students

I'd like to inform you that the Morrison Public Library is open on days other than Sunday. Please, come in on a Wednesday night, you'd be amazed by how much more help the reference librarians can give you when you are not one of three or four students standing in line at the reference desk. I know Kurt Vennegut said the secret to life is farting around but you should first finish your homework before you fart around. We are here to help and we can help you more if ya'll would stagger your library times. But, you know, if you all want to wait and come in on Sundays we can handle that too.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cool Contest

I didn't know this but this month is Love Your Indie Bookstore Month and the writer, Joe Hill, is sponsoring a contest that is designed to get people to purchase books from their local indie bookstore.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

36 Views of the Space Shuttle

This is cool. A whole bunch of views of the recent space shuttle launch.
Old Slides

I've been shopping on eBay recently looking for older slides to purchase. Since slides are originals and people tended to store them in firm boxes they seem to come out of garages and attics in pretty good condition. I bought my first box last week and the slides showed up over the weekend. There is no date but most of the shots are in the Tuscola County area of Michigan. They were advertised on eBay as being shot in 1970 but I don't see anyway to narrow it down that closely. I think early 70's is a safe bet. Here are a few.

This is the Deford Methodist Church. I can find little or no information on this church. The last reference to it from a Google search is 1967. Dig the outfit
Woman in Front of Deford Methodist Church

I think someone may be moving from the Tuscola area because there are several shots taken from a car and there is this shot of some folks standing next to a U-Haul truck. I would think if you are going to take a bunch of shots from a moving vehicle you are more likely to be leaving that place.

Here is a shot from a moving car. This is the picture that told me where these photos were taken. The Caro pharmacy and Oasis Tavern are located in
Caro, MI. I think the Oasis Tavern may still be there. Who knows about the pharmacy...
Downtown Caro, MI

I like this picture. Driving through a rainstorm with someone's foot reflected in the window.
Rainy Streets and a Feet

I like this shot of the John J. Barden Hardware Store. I still am not sure what city this is in. I'm think either Cass City, Kingston or Caro.
John J. Barden Hardware

The last picture I pulled out of the box was a nice surprise. This is a picture of Tiger Stadium, in Detroit, MI, taken from a moving car motoring down the highway right next to the stadium.
Tiger Stadium Shot from the Freeway

You can see a more contemporary view here. I think the overpass is blocking the angle that matches the picture from the slide.

View Larger Map

That was a fun little project. I think I'll do it again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vital Speeches of the Day

I am of the opinion that the online resources that we have access to via the library's website are under utilized. Too often a Google search is the default search for homework today. Internet sources are good sources but there is so much information available in our databases that any project will only be strengthened if the student or researcher takes a look there.

The online resources are extensive and it's difficult to keep up with everything that is available. Today a coworker told me about a resource available via MasterFILE Premier called Vital Speeches of the Day. I was surprised to learn that it gives us access to full text speeches back to 1934. How's that for a treasure trove of primary sources (modern teachers love primary sources)? I did a quick search and found an interesting speech by Winston Churchill which he delivered in the House of Commons on November 29th, 1944. In this speech he is extolling the British people to not give up on the war just yet. Though they may be winning and assured of victory now is not the time to think that further sacrifice is not required.

He says, "As when climbing a hill, when there is always another peak beyond, it is at that very moment that we in this island have to give that extra sense of exertion and effort, that boundless and inexhaustible dynamic energy that we have shown, and which records made public emphasize in detail that we have shown during this struggle."

When I help people in the library many of them do not know that you can specify which journal or magazine you would like the database to search. You can see from the screen shot below that I specified a search for "Churchill" in the year 1944 that had been published in the journal "Vital speeches of the day." You may have to click on the picture below to see it clearly.

This is a very powerful tool and if you know what journal you would like to search and you don't know whether or not the library has access to this journal you can do a search here. This will tell you if a branch carries the magazine, if it's at the Main Library and how far back the archives go (main library's archives can be on microfiche, microfilm or hard copies and can go back quite a long ways) or if the magazine can be viewed on one of your online resources. Not only that, if it's available on an online resource it will provide a direct link to that resource. Be aware that if you are attempting to use an online resource from home that you will need to enter your library card number.

Remember, the best way to find out what is available on those online resources is to try and few and do a few searches of whatever interests you. That will help you later when you are doing a more serious search.

Monday, March 09, 2009

New Web Project

I find this new project to be very intriguing. A website that actually answers factual questions rather than doing a basic web search. As a librarian this could be really helpful with some questions. For example, we often get a teenagers that come to the desk and say something like "I need to do a report on Anthony III." And I'll have to do a reference interview to determine just who exactly Anthony III is before I can continue. Sometimes there may be more than one Anthony III. If I can type "Who is Anthony III" into this new tool and get a quick answer then I'll know where to begin my real research.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

An Evening With Mark Twain

On March 27th at 7 pm you can experience Mark Twain as seen through
the eyes of Dr. Elliot Engel. This event will also include refreshments and
a silent auction. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased only at the Morrison Regional Library. For more information you can call the reference desk at 704-416-5431.

The buzz on the street is that Dr. Engel is amazing as Mark Twain and this small intimate performance is not to be missed. Tickets are limited so get!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Sharon and Fairview

Sharon and Fairview
Originally uploaded by zzazazz
Took a walk and took this panorama at the corner of Sharon and Fairview. It's gotten real pretty out as the sky has cleared and the sun has come out.
The Great Blizzard of 2009

We are still hanging in there. The Mountain Dew and the coffee are holding out just fine. The sun has come up and it is releasing us slowly from the deep freeze we have endured. Local news has yet to report any fatalities. Us Carolinians are nothing if not a hardy folk. There is no precipitation anticipated for the next couple of days and for that we are thankful. The low tonight is supposed to be 13 and we are much afeared. We just got back from a walk and our noses are really cold. We endure.

Frozen Flowers. Can you feel their pain?

Walking Down the Street

A Tree

Melanie Gazes up with Wonder at the Snowman (now with cap)
The Great Blizzard of 2009

It snowed and snowed and snowed last night. The trees in our backyard that our landlord never has trimmed were dropping limbs like leaves in autumn. The power flickered a couple of times and we lost power for thirty seconds once. Wendell and I stood by the road and watched cars drive by too fast. After I went to bed, Wendell and Randy built a snowman in the side yard. Then it snowed and snowed and snowed some more. It was pretty treacherous but we got through the night and today we rise in a wonderland of wintry type stuff. We are shut in. We have coffee and Mountain Dew. We will survive.

The Morning Sun Kisses the Tree Tops

Wendell and Randy's Snowman

Reverse Angle of Snowman

See How Dark and Dreary it is?

Long Meadow Road

Wendell Had to go to Work

A Firetruck Full of American Heroes

The Snowman in Better Light

Chris by the Snowman for Scale

The Snowy Tree Across the Street
Library is Closed

According to official library Inclement Weather Hotline, all public libraries will be closed today. Now I am off to take a picture of the snowman my roommate and his buddy, Randy, made while I was sleeping last night.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Great Blizzard of 2009

It's been snowing for a few hours now. The school system has announced that they will be closed tomorrow. There's snow in the air and on the ground. So far everyone is safe but we get cold when we go outside. We will persevere.

Our Backyard

The Driveway

Ice Encrusted Trees

The Backyard Again

Let it Snow

Want to know if the library will be open tomorrow or not? Well so do I. Personally, I am banking on us closing for the day. If I was a betting man I would bet what's left of my 401K on a snow day tomorrow. Check here before you brave the elements tomorrow morning for an update. You will know as soon as I do. You don't need that scrolling thing at the bottom of your television, all you need is this blog.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Good Harbor in Leelanau County, MI

How about another sunset? This guy used to live on the coast of Good Harbor. I think it was Kevin that first showed me this magical place. I cannot go to Michigan without going here to walk around at least once. I got lucky on one of my trips up there in the 90's and captured this nice sunset. I just scanned it in today and I am very pleased that this particular negative is not scratched all to hell. I increased the contrast a little bit but otherwise this picture has not been messed with. I have always liked the swell you can see running down the coast line. I'd like to say I planned that but I just got lucky.
Good Harbor Sunset

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Alden Boat Landing

One of my favorite places in the world is the boat landing on Torch Lake located in the village of Alden in Antrim County, MI. There is a L shaped breakwater with moorings for small boats. It's always drawn me and my Dad. You can walk aways out into the lake, feel the breeze and watch the water change color as clouds move across the sky. There's never really any other people down there, it seems, and it's a good spot to enjoy the lake by yourself. I used to walk down there a lot on weekends when I stayed with Dad during my teens while he sat in the local restaurant and finished his coffee while reading the Sunday paper.

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

If you follow this link you can see the L shaped breakwater. That is where the pictures below were taken in August of 1997 on a cloudy day. What you always hear said about Torch Lake is how beautiful is the light green color in can produce. You can see that here in the top picture. I'm disappointed because the slide is damaged. There are scratches on it and a discoloration going horizontally across. I even had the scanner set to maximum retouching and that helped some..
Torch Lake at Alden Landing

Literally minutes late the clouds to the west started breaking up and the sun started shining under the clouds and one of the best sunsets I have ever seen developed. First it looked like this.

As the sun moved lower and the light got more red in it an amazing thing started happening.

Then the sky exploded.



The only places I have seen where the sunsets rival those on Torch Lake are in the Mojave Desert and Okinawa.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Another Racing Picture

This is another picture from my fall trip to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 1991 Winston Cup Mello Yellow 500. This shot is from turn 4 looking toward the start finish line. You can see race winner, Geoff Bodine, just crossing the finish line while taking the checkered flag.
Geoff Bodine crossing the finish line in first

We Are Open

Yes, it is President's Day and the banks and schools are closed but the public library is open for business. There is a short waiting list at 1:50 pm for out internet computers but the wait is only about ten minutes. There are still some open tables if you need to study and our wireless appears to be functioning.

Cross Posting

Since I have a hard time finding the opportunity to post on this blog I am gong to start cross posting here from my personal blog. My daily life is so much a part of being a librarian, both in the library and outside it, that my personal and professional blog pretty much are the same thing anyway. If I read a good book I am going to mention it on both blogs so why only cross post occasionally?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Couple of Literature Related Links

This is a cross posting with the Morrison Writers Club blog but these two links are too good to not share.

I found out today that the Virginia Quarterly Review is putting a bunch of it archives online. You can read about that here. First search I am going to do? Donald Hall, of course.

There is a great science fiction short short story on the New Yorker's website here. It has a great twist on the first contact/alien invasion story.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Libraries, Google and the Future

Found a nice article in the New York Review of books about Google and libraries. The future of libraries, like most institutions and businesses, is an unknown. I guess the future has always been an unknown but 25 years ago people weren't seriously discussing the possibility of a world without physical libraries. It's both frightening and exciting to be living in the future.
John Updike

As a librarian I feel it is my duty to say something in regards to the death of the great American writer, John Updike. It was two years ago that I read my first Updike book. I read the first book that featured his famous character, Rabbit. The novel is called Rabbit Run. I found his writing to be good almost beyond compare. It is so good that more than once I stopped reading and took a second to appreciate the genius of the writing. Like Steinbeck, not only is his skill at a level few of us ever approach, it is also accessible. Great writing doesn't have to be difficult, just great.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Poe on the BBC

Just find a some great information on a blog at the Wired website. The BBC is presenting dramatizations of Poe's work and you can hear them online. Interesting stuff.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Reading on the Rise

News to warm a librarian's heart. The best news is that young adult reading is rising faster than adult reading.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Google and Newspapers

This blog post at Wired has some good ideas on this topic. Personally I think once newspapers are no longer run by corporations and are less concerned about making a big profit then we will settle back down into a world of smaller niched newspapers that are successful on a local level. Something like what the Mint Hill Times is attempting. It's the wild west all over again.