Trying Out My Smartphone Camera

I bought a Motorola Droid Mini, my first smartphone!  I took these pictures with its 10 megapixel camera.  Not bad, but no comparison with my Canon S90.

The first two are of the southwest side of the library.

Here is Bronough Street looking north on a cool, bright December day.

Here are some MovinCool portable air conditioners in the basement corridor.  They had been used temporarily while repairs were made to the library's HVAC system.  They look a little Dalek-like, no?


Asian Crime Fiction

Here is a book list I put together for a display.  I don't much care for Scandinavian crime, but it has been credited with encouraging the growth of international crime fiction in English.  These books have Asian characters or Asian settings or both.  I include only books that our library owns, but the list might be of use to librarians, or as a reading checklist.  Where only the series name is given, see Fantastic Fiction for titles.  The image, which I borrowed from Grand Theft Auto, was used on my display poster, with the brushstroke font Bonzai.

Brackman, Lisa
    Rock Paper Tiger
    Hour of the Rat
Browne, Marshall
    Rendezvous at Kamakura Inn
Burdett, John
    Bangkok series
Chandra, Vikram
    Sacred Games
Chang, Henry
    Detective Jack Yu series
Cotterill, Colin
    Dr. Siri series
    Jimm Juree series
Flint, Shamini
    Inspector Singh series
Higashino, Keigo
    The Devotion of Suspect X
    Salvation of a Saint
Hirahara, Naomi
    Mas Arai series
    Murder in Bamboo Lane
Isaka, Kotaro
    Remote Control
Keating, H.R.F.
    Inspector Ghote series
Kirino, Natsuo
    Real World
Lancet, Barry
    Tokyo Kill
Lee, Don
    Country of Origin
Lewis, Simon
    Bad Traffic
Liang, Diane Wei
    Mei Wang mysteries
Limon, Martin
    SueƱo and Bascomb Investigations
Marshall, William
    Yellowthread Street
Miyabe, Miyuki
    Shadow Family
    All She Was Worth
Pattison, Eliot
    Inspector Shan series
Peace, David
    Tokyo Year Zero
    Occupied City
Qiu, Xiaolong
    Inspector Chen series
Robinson, Thatcher
    White Ginger
    Black Karma
Rozan, S.J.
    Lydia Chin series
Shimada, Soji
    The Tokyo Zodiac Murders
Swarup, Vikas
    Six Suspects
Vittachi, Nury
    The Feng Shui Detective


The Heck with Librarianship

Time for some Gladys Knight and the Pips!

We used to close our Saturday night partying with Soul Train, which came on after Saturday Night Live at 1 a.m.


Boats for the Dead

I will never forget Pope John Paul II's coffin in St. Peter's square:  its plain, simple construction, as if to unite his death with the death of every man; how the wind ruffled the pages of the gospel book, before finally closing its cover.

I was fascinated tonight to hear the story of Marcus Daly, who was inspired by the Pope's casket to turn from building boats to making coffins.  He appeared on EWTN's The Journey Home, a program featuring the stories of Catholic converts.

Marcus Daly's web site is Marian Caskets.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

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.


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.