2014/09/20

The Benefits of Slow Reading

From an article in the Wall Street Journal on September 16, "Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress", by Jeanne Whalen:
Once a week, members of a Wellington, New Zealand, book club arrive at a cafe, grab a drink and shut off their cellphones. Then they sink into cozy chairs and read in silence for an hour.

The point of the club isn't to talk about literature, but to get away from pinging electronic devices and read, uninterrupted. The group calls itself the Slow Reading Club, and it is at the forefront of a movement populated by frazzled book lovers who miss old-school reading.

Slow reading advocates seek a return to the focused reading habits of years gone by, before Google, smartphones and social media started fracturing our time and attention spans. Many of its advocates say they embraced the concept after realizing they couldn't make it through a book anymore.


2014/08/12

Wild Horses


I found this wall art while clicking through the West Texas town of Rankin in Google Street View.  Its red pigment and primitive energy called to mind the cave-paintings of Europe.

The building appears to have been a "thrift shop", now empty.  Next to it is the First State Bank of Rankin, which boasts an historical marker.

2014/07/27

Watermelon Festival



A woman called from Vero Beach.  An old friend of hers was being elevated to a judgeship.  They had grown up in Tallahassee, and she thought that a photograph of him as a baby with watermelons had appeared in the local newspaper in 1960 during a watermelon festival.  The newspaper offices had referred her to the library.  Could I look for it?  I found a couple of photographs of the Monticello Watermelon Festival in July of that year on microfilm, but not the one she wanted.

When I used to drive the library bookmobile to the village of Miccosukee, near the Jefferson County line, (of which Monticello is the county seat), I used to hear talk of how the watermelon crop was doing.  There were melon fields close by where I parked.

I have a bright memory of a summer day when I was five in Pinecastle, south of Orlando, swimming in a lake and eating watermelon with my friends.  Most people didn't have A/C, and a swim and crisp slices of watermelon gave us real relief from the heat.  The sweet, sticky juice ran down our faces, hands and tummies, and we rinsed ourselves in the lake.

In Florida, with its enormous coastline, seafood festivals vastly outnumber all other food festivals.  Yet, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, Florida has more watermelon festivals than any other state:  six!  Here are some photos from Florida Memory of the Monticello festival in days of yore, plus a few others.
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Red Kerce

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,  Karl E. Holland

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Francoise King

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Tallahassee Democrat

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Tallahassee Democrat

 State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Tallahassee Democrat

 State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Francoise King

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Tallahassee Democrat

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Francoise King


Four ladies swimming and eating watermelon in the Suwannee River - Fanning Springs, Florida
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Francis P. Johnson

Donald Fort loading Garrison watermelons - Oxford, Florida
 State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Watermelons being loaded by laborers for transportation - Tavares, Florida
 State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Unloading watermelons - Marianna, Florida
 State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

2014/07/11

Identity Crisis


I passed this ash urn entering the library by the Park Avenue steps this morning, and had to laugh.  I know it well, because it stands on the first floor landing in the smoking area, where I used to smoke.

There are two of them there, one on each side of the main stairway leading up from the street.  Two larger trash receptacles of a similar design stand on the second floor landing.  On the first floor landing, there is no place to throw trash, only these ash urns.

Being the smoking area, a lot of living goes on here, and living generates trash:  not only cigarette ash and butts, but food wrappers and drink containers.  You have to give people credit for trying to be tidy, but the poor ash urn is not up to the task.  It was not made to hold trash.

The cleaning crew has tried to make the best of the situation by putting in a bin liner.  The trays for these ash urns are rusted out, with great holes in their bottoms.  The urns have been there for twenty-three years, since the building opened in 1991, as have I.

2014/04/30

Make Us Ever Mindful

I've been seeing "mindful" and  "mindfulness" enough lately to make me want to find out what the collection says about them.

Time Magazine had a cover story in February 2014, "The Mindful Revolution".   And even as I was thinking about this post, Lodro Rinzler was writing last week on The Huffington Post that "Mindfulness Isn't a Trend, It's a Movement".

The Wikipedia entry on Mindfulness is helpful.  While "mindfulness" has been used to refer to the Buddhist practice of "right mindfulness", the seventh element of the noble eightfold path, it has been adopted in the West as a therapeutic concept.

Thich Nhat Hanh and Jon Kabat-Zinn have written popular works on the Buddhist practice, while the library owns a couple of works by Ellen Langer written from the psychological perspecrive.

32 titles.
(Meditation-6)
Children-8
Self-Help-5 
Food-4
Health-4
Money-3
Work-2


As with the Whisperer books, the library's Mindfulness books are heavily weighted  toward child-rearing.  Unlike the Whisperer books, the library does not own any books applying Mindfulness to pet ownership.  I see a few out there on Amazon, but the Whisperer phenomenon was to do with animals from the start.

After child-rearing, a large proportion  are devoted to psychological self-help, such as  The Mindful Way Through Depression and The Mindful Path To Self-Compassion.  Lord knows a lot of us need help with depression.

What does "mindfulness" communicate as a tag?  If you use it in a book title, whom do you hope will buy the book?  For example, Tranquilista:  mastering the art of enlightened work and mindful play. (And what about that suffix, "-ista"?)


The Miracle Of Mindfulness:  a manual of meditation, by Thich Nhat Hanh, 1987.

Mindfulness, by Ellen J. Langer, 1989.

Peace Is Every Step:  the path of mindfulness in everyday life, by Thich Nhat Hanh; edited by Arnold Kotler, 1991.

Dharma Family Treasures : sharing mindfulness with children,  edited and illustrated by Sandy Eastoak, 1994.

Living The Mindful Life, by Charles T. Tart ; foreword by Sogyal Rinpoche, 1994.

Wherever You Go, There You Are:  mindfulness meditation in everyday life, by Jon Kabat-Zinn, 1994.

Everyday Blessings:  the inner work of mindful parenting, by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn, 1997.

The Mindful Money Guide:  creating harmony between your values and your finances, by Marshall Glickman, 1999.

 Aligned, Relaxed, Resilient : the physical foundations of mindfulness, by Will Johnson,  2000.

 Mindful Steps To Happiness:  walking the path of the Buddha, by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, 2001.

Mindfulness And Money : the Buddhist path of abundance, by Kulananda and Dominic Houlder, 2002.

Journey To Mindfulness:  the autobiography of Bhante G., by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana with Jeanne Malmgren, 2003.

Under The Chinaberry Tree:  books and inspirations for mindful parenting, by by Ann Reuthling and Patti Pitcher, 2003.

Harvest For Hope:  a guide to mindful eating, by Jane Goodall with Gary McAvoy and Gail Hudson, 2005.

Resonant Leadership:  renewing yourself and connecting with others through mindfulness, hope, and compassion, by Richard Boyatzis, Annie McKee, 2005.

ChiWalking : the five mindful steps for lifelong health and energy, by Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer, 2006.

The Mindful Way Through Depression:  freeing yourself from chronic unhappiness, by Mark Williams, et al., 2007.

Counter Clockwise : mindful health and the power of possibility, by Ellen J. Langer, 2009.

Mindful Eating : a guide to rediscovering a healthy and joyful relationship with food, by Jan Chozen Bays; foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2009.

The Mindful Path To Self-Compassion:  freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions. by Christopher K. Germer; foreword by Sharon Salzberg, 2009.

Fully Present:  the science, art, and practice of mindfulness. by Susan L. Smalley and Diana Winston, 2010.

Savor:  mindful eating, mindful life, by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung, 2010.

Tranquilista:  mastering the art of enlightened work and mindful play, by Kimberly Wilson, 2010.

How To Train A Wild Elephant And Other Adventures In Mindfulness, by Jan Chozen Bays, 2011.

Mindfulness:  an eight-week plan for finding peace in a frantic world, by Mark Williams and Danny Penman; foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2011.

10 Mindful Minutes : giving our children-and ourselves-the social and emotional skills to reduce stress and anxiety for healthier, happier lives, by Goldie Hawn with Wendy Holden, 2011.

Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, With Diabetes:  a mindful eating program for thriving with prediabetes or diabetes, by Michelle May, with Megrette Fletcher, 2012.

The Mindful Way Through Pregnancy:  meditation, yoga, and journaling for expectant mothers, edited by Susan Piver, 2012.

Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents), by Eline Snel; forward by Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2013.

Mindful Discipline: a loving approach to setting limits and raising an emotinally intelligent child, by Shauna Shapiro PhD and Chris White MD, 2014.

Mindful Parenting : simple and powerful solutions for raising creative, engaged, happy kids in today's hectic world, by Kristen Race, PhD, 2014.

The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Mindfulness, by Amanda Ie, Christelle T. Ngnoumen, Ellen J. Langer, 2014.

2014/04/06

The Joy of Ruins

Really interesting video-essay on the Financial Times Arts page, prompted by an exhibit at the Tate gallery.  Peter Aspden talks about the lure of urban decay and the appeal of ruins.  He looks at lost London, post-Katrina New Orleans and Hitler's Atlantic Wall.



I was pleased to see Iain Sinclair, who says that ruins help us think about our own mortality.

It reminds me of a donated book I once put in the library collection, The Pleasure of Ruins, by Rose Macaulay.

We used to get teenagers coming in, asking about our file of clippings on Sunland Center, a hospital for the mentally and physically disabled in Tallahassee.  It stood empty for many years before it was finally torn down, and was rumored to be haunted.

In February, I had an inquiry about an establishment called the City Hotel.  Was it still standing?  I discovered that it had been built around 1828 and had been the "best tavern in town".  The Count de Castelnau stayed there, as well as the poet, Sidney Lanier.  But it burned down in 1886, and the state capitol building and grounds occupy its former place.

2014/01/29

Whisperers

I processed a request for a new book, The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting by Clara Parkes.  I knew, of course, about the 1995 book that started it all, The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans's first, hugely successful novel, which became a motion picture starring Robert Redford.
"He is the stuff of legend.  His voice can calm wild horses and his touch heal broken spirits.  For secrets uttered softly into pricked and troubled ears, such men were once called Whisperers.  Now Tom Booker, the inheritor of this ancient gift, is to meet his greatest challenge." - publisher's description
 The Horse Whisperer sounds like a shaman or a wizard.  Some reviewers characterized Evans's novel as "new age".  He talks to the animals, like Doctor Doolittle or Saint Francis.  He has a higher awareness and sensitivity, a capacity for deep intimacy and understanding.

I was vaguely aware that other books had followed with "whisperer" in their titles.  As with the "French lifestyle" books a few months ago, I thought it would be fun to see what the body of "whisperer" books looked like.  There proved to be so many that I was almost sorry I looked!

Though a novel, The Horse Whisperer fathered a genre of self-help and memoir writing.  The most successful writer of "Whisperer" self-help books has to be Tracy Hogg, whose 2001 title, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer, and several sequels, plus a 2002 television series, The Baby Whisperer, surely helped popularize the "Whisperer" as a self-help "brand".

Other subjects of the "Whisperer" treatment include dogs, children, students, teens, men, (dudes, husbands, frogs), bullies, ("jerks"), and ghosts.  I didn't see any "Wife Whisperer" or "Girlfriend Whisperer" books.


The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans, fiction, (1995).


The Man Who Listens To Horses by Monty Roberts, biography, (1997).


The Horse Whisperer starring Robert Redford, film, (1998).


The Dog Whisperer: A Compassionate, Nonviolent Approach to Dog Training by Paul Owens and Norma Eckroate, (1999).

The Tarantula Whisperer:  a celebrity vet shares her secrets to communicating with animals by Laura Pasten, (1999).


The Cow Whisperer:  Stories from the Big Sky Country of Ranchin', Romance, and Rugrats Paperback by Skip Halmes, (2001).

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau, (2001).

Spirit Whisperers : Teachers Who Nourish a Child's Spirit by Chick Moorman, (May 1, 2001).


Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers by Tracy Hogg, (2002).

Wild Thing (Winnie the Horse Gentler, Book 1) by Dandi Daley Mackall, juvenile series, (2002).


The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems: Sleeping, Feeding, and Behavior--Beyond the Basics from Infancy Through... by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau (2004). 


Secrets of the People Whisperer: A Horse Whisperer's Techniques for Enhancing Communication and Building Relationships... by Perry Wood, (2005)


Whispers from the Woods: The Lore & Magic of Trees by Sandra Kynes, )2006)..  


The Puppy Whisperer: A Compassionate, Non Violent Guide to Early Training and Care by Terence Cranendonk, Paul Owens and Norma Eckroate, (2007).

The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia by Orlando Figes, (2007).


The Man Whisperer: Speaking Your Man's Language to Bring Out His Best by Rick Johnson, (2008).

The Teen Whisperer: How to Break through the Silence and Secrecy of Teenage Life by Mike Linderman and Gary Brozek, (2008).


The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller and Jeff Anderson, (2009).

The Dog Whisperer by Nicholas Edwards, juvenile series, (2009).

The Dog Whisperer Presents - Good Habits for Great Dogs: A Positive Approach to Solving Problems for Puppies and Dogs by Paul Owens and Norma Eckroate, (2009).

The Elephant Whisperer:  My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony, (2009).

The Pony Whisperer by Janet Rising, juvenile series, (2009).


Life Lessons from a Horse Whisperer by Dr. Lew Sterrett, (2010).

The Man Whisperer: A Gentle, Results-Oriented Approach to Communication by Donna Sozio and Samantha Brett, (2010).  

The Spirit Whisperer: Chronicles of a Medium by John Holland, (2010).


The Frog Whisperer: A 3-Step Approach to Finding Lasting Love by Jane E Atkinson, (2011).

The Ham Whisperer's Technician Class License Course by Andy Vellenga, (2011).

The King Whisperers: Power Behind the Throne, from Rasputin to Rove by Kerwin Swint PhD, (2011). 

Man Whisperer (Zane Presents) by Allegra Adams, erotica, (2011). 

The Medium Next Door: Adventures of a Real-Life Ghost Whisperer by Maureen Hancock, (2011).

The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master by Martha Alderson (2011).

The Project Whisperer: Understanding The Human Part of The Gantt Chart by Pam Stanton, (2011).

Sleep: Top Tips from the Baby Whisperer: Secrets to Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau, (2011).  

Soul Whisperer by Jenna Kernan, fiction, (2011).

The Student Whisperer by Oliver DeMille and Tiffany Earl, mentoring, (Mar 1, 2011).

The Whale Whisperer: Healing Messages from the Animal Kingdom to Help Mankind and the Planet by Madeleine Walker, (2011). 


The Child Whisperer, The Ultimate Handbook for Raising Happy, Successful, and Cooperative Children by Carol Tuttle (2012).

The Daemon Whisperer by Candice Bundy and Amber Shah, young adult fiction, (2012).

The Dude Whisperer: Dating tips for the modern girl: how to stay cool, be funny, and flirt with the right guy... by Rebecca Jean Tingley, (2012).

The Jerk Whisperer: How to Deal with Tyrants, Tormentors, and Bullies... and Still Keep Your Sanity! by Stephen Birchak, (2012).  

The Orchid Whisperer: Expert Secrets for Growing Beautiful Orchids by Bruce Rogers and Greg Allikas, (2012).

The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories by Martha Alderson (2012).

The Serial Killer Whisperer : how one man's tragedy helped unlock the deadliest secrets of the world's most terrifying killer by Pete Earley, (2012).

Wolf Whisperer by Karen Whiddon, (fiction) 2012


The Body Whisperer: Your Symptoms Tell Me Your Truth by Christine Denise Lang, (2013). 

The Cat Whisperer: Why Cats Do What They Do--and How to Get Them to Do What You Want by Mieshelle Nagelschneider (2013).

Flowerspeak: The Flower Whisperer's Guide to Health, Happiness, and Awakening: How the Flowers Assist in the Expansion... by Elizabeth M. Patric, (2013).

The Marriage Whisperer:  Tips to Improve Your Relationship Overnight by Patt Hollinger Pickett, (2013).

Mind Whispering: A New Map to Freedom from Self-Defeating Emotional Habits by Tara Bennett-Goleman, (2013).

The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing by Martha Alderson, (2013).  

Reading in the Wild: The Book Whisperer's Keys to Cultivating Lifelong Reading Habits by Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelley, (2013).

Soul Whisperer: Why the Church Must Change the Way It Views Evangelism by Gary Comer, (2013).

Walkin' with the Ghost Whisperers: Lore and Legends of the Appalachian Trail by J. R. Tate, (2013).

The Werewolf Whisperer (Vampire Love Story #2) by H.T. Night, (2013).

Whisperers: The Secret History of the Spirit World by J.H. Brennan, (2013).

The Worm Whisperer by Betty Hicks, (juvenile) 2013. 

The Yarn Whisperer: My Unexpected Life in Knitting by Clara Parkes, (2013).


Antonia, the Horse Whisperer: The Rosenburg Riding Stables, Volume 1 by Elisabeth Zölle, juvenile series, (2014).

Death of a Dog Whisperer (A Melanie Travis Mystery) by Laurien Berenson, (2014).

Family Whispering: The Baby Whisperer's Commonsense Strategies for Communicating and Connecting with the People... by Melinda Blau and Tracy Hogg, (2014).

The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Heads of Basketball's Best Players by Idan Ravin, (2014).

The Husband Whisperer: The Gentle Approach to Communication in Marriage by Kevin Hinckley and MED LPC, (2014).   

The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience by Kent A. Kiehl PhD, (2014).

Secrets of the Wine Whisperer:  or How I Learned to Drink Wine and Found Ecstasy, Joy, Peace, Happiness, Life, and Salvation by Jerry Greenfield, (2014).

The Shark Whisperer (Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians) by Ellen Prager and Antonio Javier Caparo, (2014). 

2014/01/11

ILLin'

 Around 2003-4 our library systems guy built a tool which, among other things, let us automate request processing for new materials and materials not owned,  Before the "Materials Request Database", (MRD), requests for new materials were handled by moving paper cards around in file drawers.  The MRD could also flag requests if the patrons had expired or delinquent accounts.  It could generate e-mail notices to patrons.  It could place holds for patrons as new materials were cataloged.  It was also linked to OCLC, letting us send interlibrary loan renewal requests without having to log in to OCLC.


But over time, upgrades to our SIRSI library system and to OCLC have broken things in the MRD.  The man who built it retired long ago.

In December 2013 we migrated to ILLiad, an OCLC product for interlibrary loan and document delivery.  We have adapted it to handle new materials requests as well.


Patrons now must create an ILLiad account to make new or ILL requests, but they can track their requests, which they have not been able to do for some time.  Staff can search OCLC, Ingram, Amazon and Google all in the client's request window.  Patrons are now limited to five active requests, which ought to ease the load on our overburdened book selection and ILL staff.

We are still working the bugs out, but it is surprising how quickly our patrons have adapted.  Very quickly after we made ILLiad available at the beginning of January, they began to sign up and submit requests.  We are also creating accounts for patrons who cannot do it themselves.


We are unveiling a new library web site very soon, with a cleaner look, integrated into the main Leon County site.

Old site:


New site:


2013/11/24

Just A Dugout That My Dad Built



Lately I have been watching "Let's Plays" on YouTube, videos made by gamers playing their favorite games.


It was the combination of Let's Play Fallout 1 with the 50th anniversary of the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy that got me thinking about our fallout shelter.

My family moved into our new house in Maitland, Florida, ("Dommerich Woods" was the name of the subdivision), in the fall of 1962.  Its Modern design was the work of the architect Manfred Lopatka.


 Unlike the one in the "New Frontier" video, our bomb shelter was built under the house.  An ordinary door in the middle of the house opened onto stairs leading down to a bare, concrete room, about 15' x 20'.  I wish that I had pictures of it.  My father had filled metal trash cans with canned food and medical supplies.  He also had a Family Radiation Measurement Kit.

Thank God, (and JFK too), that the tensions of the Cold War years, brought to a fever pitch by the raising of the Berlin Wall and the  Cuban Missile Crisis, did not erupt in a nuclear war.

We watched a program Friday night presented by Tom Brokaw, "Where Were You:  The Day JFK Died."  They say that everyone remembers where they were, but I can't remember a thing.  I was nine years old.  My wife recalls clearly being sent home from school that day.  My parents were Republicans, and so would not have felt the loss in the way that JFK's supporters did.  I am not even sure that we owned a television.

The fallout shelter became my father's "study", as well as the first place my sister Carol and I could play rock music.  We used my dad's old portable 45 rpm record player to play my first rock single, the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand", again and again.








2013/10/23

Three Little Words

 Anyone remember Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)?  The film's catchy title spawned  a great number of similar titles  and headlines.  I wondered whether Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love might be doing the same when I took a request for Eat, Move, Sleep, a self-help book by Tom Rath.  It hasn't caught fire like SL&V, lacking the salacious appeal of the film title, but I found a few.

Eat, Pray, Love has an improving, new-age sound:  Three Steps to a New You.  So do its imitators, saving the last one, Drink, Play, F@#k, which appears to be a gonzo take on EPL from a "guy's" point of view.

Eat! Move! Play!: A Parent's Guidefor Raising Healthy, Happy Kids by Weight Watchers 

Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath 

Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living by Thomas Yarema, et al. 

Work, Love, Pray: Practical Wisdom for Young Professional Christian Women and Those Who Want to Understand Them by Diane Paddison 

Drink, Play, F@#k: One Man's Search for Anything Across Ireland, Las Vegas, and Thailand by Andrew Gottlieb

I'll add more titles if I run across any.
__________________________________________

Interesting post and comments at CHE's Lingua Franca blog on the origin of the word, "dude".
it seems almost certain that “dude” derived from “doodle,” as in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”... For some reason, early in 1883, this inspired someone to call foppish young men of New York City “doods,” with the alternate spelling “dudes” soon becoming the norm.
 I always associated the word with surfers, later with headbangers and stoners.