Meez is hot with kids

Meez is the new online play space for children this summer. All the kids are going there at the library, creating their avatars and playing the games, coaching each other about how to use it. Huge buzz, and frustrating when they can only have one session per day as "guests" without library cards, poor things, though they seem to find ways to get around the rule. No point in being a total computer-nazi.


Citrus Packing Plant: Weirsdale, Florida

Weirsdale is a little hamlet on State Road 42, south of Ocala in Marion County, where it intersects State Road 25. I saw this structure on the way to my sister's house on Lake Yale near Eustis. I mentioned the citrus freezes of the late '80's in my Summerport Beach post, and I would guess they put this plant out of business. Growers have been replanting in recent years, and I was heartened to see new, healthy citrus groves here and there.

This is an album, btw, click on picture or links to see the rest.


Look, PoMo!

It was my turn to make a book display for June. I had been socking titles away for a PoMo display for some time.

Frederick Barthelme said in a recent interview that the Post-Modernist project is pretty much dead. Yet many PoMo classics remain on AP English summer reading lists: Catch 22, Slaughterhouse 5, In Cold Blood, Gravity's Rainbow. I was unable to find copies of these on the shelf for the display.

David Foster Wallace has become a PoMo martyr, having killed himself last year. But his Infinite Jest and The Broom of the System are also always checked out. I was happy to find his final work, Oblivion.

Also shown: Auster, Doctorow, Rushdie, Irving, Delillo, Eco, McElroy, Barth.

"PoMo" on the poster uses Orange Clock, a typeface based on the film poster by Bill Gold for A Clockwork Orange.

I had thought about using Lichtenstein's Blam, but I decided that it would be too obscure, and that a Marilyn by Warhol would work better.

"The Postmodern Novel" I set in Urania Czech, a type taken from an old typewriter.


The Brokaw-McDougalls: an old Tallahassee family

I took a call from Mrs. Wilhelmina M. of Crawfordville yesterday, who wished to refresh her memory about the family of her late friend, Emma McDougall. Emma had worked at our library, she said. It must have been long before my time. Had not Emma's grandfather-in-law been a governor of Florida? I said that I would look into it, and she said that she would call back later in the afternoon. Mrs. M. had been given a shrub of noble lineage by Emma's husband, Peres McDougall, which is to be mentioned in her garden club's newsletter, and she wants to have her facts straight.

When Mrs. M. called back, I was ready. Emma's grandfather-in-law, Peres Bonney Brokaw, had come to Tallahassee from New Jersey in 1840 and set up a livery stable business one block south of the current county courthouse and offices on Monroe Street. He built his house in 1856, with some of the wood and stone imported from Europe. He was of the secession party in 1861, and he paraded his troop of volunteer cavalry in front of the capitol while the issue was debated in the legislature. He was elected to the city commission and to the state legislature, but he was never a governor of Florida.

Brokaw died in 1875 and his daughter Eliza married a Scotsman, Alexander McDougall, in 1884. McDougall ran a general store, a construction business, and was later the postmaster. Their son, Peres Brokaw McDougall, married Emma Trammel in 1914. When Peres McDougall died in 1963, Emma stayed on in the house until 1973, when she sold it to the State of Florida for preservation.

Mrs. M. fondly recalled Peres McDougall. She had worked in the Lewis State Bank, and the very day before he died, he had come around, talking and joking with the ladies in her office. What a shock it had been when he died the next day!

Mrs. M. said that she is 84, and her memory is not what it used to be, but she was pretty certain that Emma had a Florida governor in her family. I looked at the list of governors in The Florida Handbook, and Park Trammel, surely Emma's father, was governor from 1914 to 1917.

She thanked me, and was there any charge ?. No ma'am, I was pleased to take her question, particularly enjoying research into local history.

What a delight. Episodes like this are what I live for.


Freestone Wilson's blog added.

Freestone Wilson has been a fixture of Tallahassee life for decades. He is often to be seen walking to and fro about town. I see him often in the library, where he no doubt posts to his blog, My Life After Near Death Experiences, using our public-access computers. He is a sort of seer, and he makes the most original observations. I discovered his blog today as I was searching for information about Peres Bonney Brokaw, who built one of Tallahassee's most distinctive old houses just before the Civil War. Freestone had posted a picture of the house on his blog.


Corpus Christi

I hear it at every mass as I draw near to the priest or eucharistic minister. "Body of Christ...Body of Christ...Body of Christ...". Corpus Christi is our parish's special feast day, as we are Blessed Sacrament Church.

"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."

"The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

"From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."

Here He gives Himself to us as bread.
Here as wine we drink the blood He shed.
Born to die, we eat and live instead.
God and man at table are sat down.

Why not Open Office?

Friend Steerforth suggested that we might replace MS Office with the free, open source, Open Office.

It was wrong for MS to have broken their own .doc standard when only a tiny fraction of users make use of the features that .docx adds, and cynically at that, making it the default format, to compel everyone to buy the new version.

I would be delighted were businesses and agencies to decline en masse to swallow any more MS rollouts, and to switch to open source software. I don't see it happening.

I'm happy to use IBM's Lotus Symphony iteration of Open Office at home. It wouldn't cost a thing to offer it as an alternative on public-access computers.

One of consequences, for public-access computing, of closing the "digital divide", making computers easy enough to use that almost everyone is able to use e-mail or apply for a job online, is that we must settle on one way of doing something and not deviate from it.

Many public-access users don't understand anything about file formats, or that they can install free programs that are better than the ones that come with the computers. To them, a computer is like a television or a telephone. You turn it on and learn to use it as is. This is so even with many library staff.

Open Office saves documents by default in the Open Document format, (.odt). If we forced our users to use it, they would wonder why their professors, friends, and business associates, who have only MS Word, were unable to read their files. They would not count the inconvenience of having to "save as" Word 97 everytime they wanted to share a file a price worth paying for freedom from a proprietary file format.

This already happens with users who have bought laptops with Microsoft Works, not wanting to pay extra for MS Office, and find that their .wps files won't open with MS Word when they want to print them out with our PC's. I have to tell them to go back and save their work as Word 97 to print it out.

Look at the usage share of web browsers. There are several browsers that offer a more satisfying experience than Internet Explorer, chiefly, (for PC's), Firefox and Opera, yet 65% use IE. And were public-access users polled, it would be close to 100%. No one has ever complained that Firefox is not installed on our public-access PC's.


Legacy Public-Access Computing

It's been a bad couple of weeks for our aging network of public-access Internet workstations in Adult Services. Old CRT monitors are dying. Other machines boot to black or blue screens, or have chronic browser crashes, or fail to work properly with our EnvisionWare PC Reservation program. They have problems with popular apps like Lime Wire, and we sometimes have to send users downstairs to the workstations in Tech/Media, where the newer, small form factor Dell PC's can handle them. Currently, four out of twenty-three Internet PC's in Adult Services are down. Two others have recently received replacement LCD monitors.

Remember Y2K, the false alarm that scared everyone into upgrading their hardware? That is when these machines were purchased, or shortly thereafter. Many of them still have Windows 2000 installed, though some now have XP. They have floppy drives, and cannot burn to CD, though they have been retrofitted with front USB and sound ports. They have something like 256mb of RAM, which, if you recall, used to be huge, but is now inadequate. They have MS Office 2003, which is no longer supported, and which will not open Word 2007 .docx files without downloading an add-on.

It is nobody's fault. Our MIS techs are diligent, and they respond quickly where they can. We are getting new keyboards to replace the ones that are so worn that you can't read the keys. We are just going to have to make do, until the fat years return. Wireless laptops are becoming increasingly affordable, so that most people need not rely on public-access machines unless they need to print.


Dear John

Overheard on the 2nd floor landing at the library this evening:

"Where you at? Jackson Bluff? Tha's jus' one mo lie you bin tellin' me. I thought you wasn't seein' him no mo! Ah mo bus' yo mouth when ah see you! Ah mo take care of you!" (Hangs up and walks inside.)


Blogging Reference: Saturday, June 6

Working with Janine this morning. It's her last Saturday, she's retiring at the end of June, alas...

Looks like more rain,


10:00 Open.

Campgrounds in Asheville, NC.

Turned up a trophy in the donations, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer. I was pleased to add a donated paperback copy of this to the collection in 2003. It's circulated 36 times. Was rebound in '07, so it now has a stout set of covers, and won't need replacing for years. Still, I hate to throw this one back. Maybe it's a sign I should leave off sea-roving with Jack Aubrey and set myself to read it.

TCC study group applies to use the Henderson Room on the fly.

Where can return books on cassette?

Saw talk in an April issue of Public Libraries that Ebony and Jet may go the way of PC Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor and U.S. News & World Report, dropping their print editions entirely. Hasn't happened yet, but I found an interesting discussion about them as cultural institutions: Should black folks save Ebony and Jet magazine?

Help a couple of men start their PC sessions.

Basquiat. Exhibition catalog and biography both missing.

Where is PC?


Idea for sculpture based on The Thinker, "The Browsers". Rows of silent users, leaning forward, chins on palms, gazing at screens.

Start to make round, but J. wants to go instead, check on patron in Art section.

Your basic retired professor in Tilley hat returns ILL, 13 Things That Don't Make Sense: the most baffling scientific mysteries of our time by Michael Brooks. Has other arrived, Science at the edge : conversations with the leading scientific thinkers of today by John Brockman? Yes. Thanks me with smile.

Make round. Man looking for book he turned in. Warn woman using catalog PC for homework.

Help man find Table Tools Design Tab in Word. Is Word 2007 feature. Our PC's have Word 2002, Table Styles is different.

Where is PC 48?

African woman w turban wants books on aging.

Phone: It's Lee, wanting listing for Tallahassee Health Associates in Montgomery AL.

Yesterday's and today's papers.

1:02 Back from lunch, have made round. Our volunteer L. is here, training with us in reference.

J. goes to lunch.

Phone: The Negro by DuBois. Copy NOS. Have at Ft. Braden branch. She'll drive out there. Mark copy missing.

Road atlas.

PC for Brown.

Security alarm. Pass her through.

Trying to show L. Amer. Heritage Dict & Columbia Ency. at Bartleby but they appear to be gone! Disturbing. I used them a lot. Columbia Ency. has moved to InfoPlease.

Returns road atlas.

Phone: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Picoult is very popular among young women, and now this one has been made into a movie. 8 copies, 12 outstanding holds. She'll buy it.

PC for Javon. Takes short session. 25 min. wait for full session.

Says keyboard doesn't work, but when I walk over, it works.

J. makes round.


Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton.

Eager smiling Asian children, brother and sister, come off the stairs to find their PC.

Man taking long drink from water fountain. At last, his thirst is slaked.

Look over at printer to see the last of about 400 pages of a math textbook come out. No one claims it. Looks like they took the first 100 pages or so. Printer needs toner as well. Show L. where paper is, how to fan, difference between felt and wire sides of paper.

Can leave bag while in rest room? Yes.

Explain eBay to girl.

Show Spanish fiction.

ILL renewal. Pass her to J.

Out for smoke. Sun & clouds, very humid. Left foot is sore.

2:57 L. leaves at 3:00. So good to have her.

3:16 Crazy busy. Show sorority to conf. room, chase man out. No, he may not take comfy chair out of room.

Show databases for outpatient substance abuse research.

Hepatitis C. Give Merck Home Manual.

GRE test prep. Our copy lacks CD. Show Learning Express online. Call Ft. Braden, their copy has CD. Place hold.

Caribbean man. Usually see on Thurs. night, when he comes in for a week's DVD's. Says he is going to get some food.

Directions to Strozier Library at FSU.

Where is bathroom?


Regional wage differences by occupation. Bureau of Labor Statistics, of course, but he finds BLS site overwhelming. J. finds www.cbsalary.com Salary Calculator and Wage Finder. Nice.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. Wants hardback. Place copy level hold.

PC for Jason. 20 min. wait for a 20 min. session, (we close at 5). He'll wait for a 15 min. stand-up PC.

4:30 PC's are booked 'til closing.

Count money.

Phone: Books by theologian Richard Bube. Gets going about Bonhoeffer, who he thinks was Jewish. Have to cut him short. No, can ILL. Go to Request Materials and fill out web form for each title.

Where is electric guitar book? Take to shelf.

Finish money.

Article from Democrat ten years ago. Show NewsBank. (The Tallahassee Democrat will be moving to ProQuest with other Gannett papers).

Phone: Nobody there, just Muzak. Hang up.

15 min. announcement.

Turn off PC's.


Beautiful Pictures

Lovely photos, mainly Italian architecture and statuary, by Antmoose

antmoose's photostream

Some recent items from antmoose's photostream

ponte delle sirene castello sforzesco ducks in the park fortitude, serpotta shore


Summer Begins at the Library

First weekday/workday Monday of no school, and a change of rhythm in the traffic at the library. Instead of the wave of children we get at around 3:00 in the afternoon during the school year, they are here all day, but not in such numbers at any one time, as with the wave.

Mondays are always busy, but the addition of even modest numbers of children wanting Internet PC's as soon as we open the doors at 10 a.m. is frustrating to our older regulars and to other adults who have important business to transact online, and can't afford to wait. After 10:30 and well into the afternoon, wait times for PC's were often between 20 and 40 minutes.

The reference desk was very warm work indeed, with people without library cards asking for guest-passes, and a surprising number of high school students already requesting summer reading titles, (Lonesome Dove, Rebecca, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, The Iliad, Brave New World).

The large mirror in the men's rest room had somehow come loose from its mounts, and lay askew, wedged between the sinks and the wall. It looked potentially dangerous, like it might come crashing down and shatter, injuring someone, so I locked the door, posted a sign directing people to the first floor men's room, and called it in.

A man using one of the copiers asked me to put more paper in, and I saw we were on our last ream of letter, so I called the vendor for more paper. We've been out of the large, 11"x17" for a couple of weeks now, but the vendor has run out also, so we'll have to wait for that size.

I had seen DS dismantling the exhibit of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge photography on the art wall, and then James called up from the Media desk to ask where to send some women with their art for the June exhibit. Other women arrived to install a ceramics exhibit in the display cases.

I was on the hot-seat, and by noon I was desperate to be relieved, fleeing to the workroom to eat my sandwich, and then out into the park for a soothing read and a smoke. A blessed hour in the stacks, pulling reserves, and then back to the desk for most of the rest of the day, phones ringing, walk-ups often two deep.

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground. (Genesis 3:19)