The Future of Book Publishing

Bob Edwards had a very interesting hour on his weekend program for April 24-35, devoted to the future of publishing.  His first guest, Richard Nash, made the perceptive observation that, unlike the open, MP3 standard for music, book publishing is still a long way from settling on a common distribution platform.

Musicians can retrench themselves as live performers, rather than studio artists, about which there is a fascinating article in today's NYT.  Novelists do not have that option.  They must be compensated for their texts, and I think that a proprietary format for copyrighted works will be unavoidable.  IMO Adobe is well-positioned with its PDF format, but Apple has set it's face against Adobe., with the new iPad being incompatible with Adobe's Flash.  Time will tell.


The Healing Power of Support Groups

A woman I recognized from church, the wife of one of our eucharistic ministers, came in today, looking for information about "support groups for people with disabilities".  She couldn't find anything in the library catalog.

A few keyword searches with her terms were indeed fruitless.  The library owns no books about support groups for people with disabilities.  I began to feel her out and get a better idea of what she hoped to find.  Was this for course work?  Yes.  Was she on a deadline?  Yes, she had a week, so interlibrary loan was out.

Something told me to hand her our 211 Big Bend Community Resource Directory.  She didn't know about it, and flipped through it while I did some searches online.  The query began to firm up.  She really wanted to know how to start a support group.

That opened the door.  There are countless support groups for people dealing with all kinds of pain and suffering, but they share a common set of tested rules and procedures.  There are plenty of resources specific to this or that disability.  What she needed was support group know-how.

The bible of the support group world, I found, has been The Self-Help Group Sourcebook: Your Guide to Community & Online Self-Help Support Groups, which was published in 2002 by the American Self-Help Group Clearinghouse, St. Clare's Health Services, NJ.  But no library in town owned a copy, and it would now be eight years old, anyway.

A little web page for a local group in North Carolina, SupportWorks, led me to the up-to-date, online version of the Self-Help Group Sourcebook, selfhelpgroups.org, which takes you to "a keyword-searchable database of over 1,100 national, international, model and online self-help support groups", and also to the original New Jersey Self-Help Group Clearinghouse, which has a wealth of how-to guides on starting a group.  I gave her the link.

She liked the Community Resource Directory, and copied several phone numbers from it, but the Self-Help Group site's name gave me another clue.  A keyword search on "self-help" instead of "support groups" found Ten Days to Self-esteem : leader's manual  by David D. Burns, and Teamworks! : building support groups that guarantee success by Barbara Sher and Annie Gottlieb, both on the shelf, and which she thought would do very well.

Support groups are so much a part of the culture now that we joke about them, as Al Franken used to do with his Stuart Smalley routines on Saturday Night Live.  But they are a legacy of the Boomer Generation that we can be proud of.  Selfhelpgroups.org cites some impressive findings on the benefits of seeking help in a support group.

I read a novel last year in which a Vietnam Vets support group was a "character", The Names of the Dead, by Stewart O'Nan.  Reader-advisory bulb lights up:  other novels featuring support groups?  Hmmm...


Tomasky's American Lit Quiz

I've been doing and thinking unremarkable things lately, just trying to keep house and yard neat, clothes clean, food on the table, cat unneglected, while my wife is chained to her desk at the legislature until the end of the session on April 30th.  (Knock on wood, there's talk of a special session.)

That's where the beauty of blogging comes in.  You can reuse someone else's content honorably as long as you link to it.

Everyone loves a quiz.  Michael Tomasky is an American blogging for the UK's Guardian Online, so if you are American, his American Literature Quiz shouldn't be that hard.  If you are a librarian, some questions will be no-brainers.  I got eight right out of ten.  Question nine threw a lot of people, and I am probably spoiling it by saying this.  I knew the answer because we still have to order replacements after all these years for copies that are simply read to pieces.  I had no idea with six and ten.


The Japanese Surprise

Who can say why we become curious about something?  To me, curiosity is what drives an active reader.  For whatever reason, I seem to have an appetite for fiction about the Japanese invasion of Southeast Asia, particularly the occupation of Malaya and Singapore.  I've touched on this before, in my post about the geopolitics of rubber.

Since then I've read:

Commander Prince, USN, by James Bassett who was Admiral Halsey's press secretary, and who also penned In Harm's Way, which was made into one of the the best of Hollywood's films about the Pacific War.  Commander Prince is sent from Manila to lead an antiquated squadron of destroyers in a series of holding actions against the Japanese advance across Indonesia.

The Pride and the Anguish, by Douglas Reeman, best known for his Napoleonic sea stories featuring Richard Bolitho.  A squadron of coastal gunboats is tasked with supporting the British/Australian defense of Malaya.

South by Java Head, by Alistair MacLean.  A motley assortment of Brits; wounded soldiers, nurses, a boy orphan and a spy, manage to escape the surrender of Singapore aboard a tramp steamer.

This is not something that Americans generally know about.  Apart from MacArthur and the Philippines, our memory of the Pacific War is of Pearl Harbor and the island-hopping operations of our Navy and Marine Corps.  Tom Hanks's recent HBO series, The Pacific, leaves out the British story of the Japanese occupation of Malaya and Burma.

When I was a 5-year-old boy, my friend's father, Shorty, had had both his legs blown off at the knees in some Pacific island battle.  It sounds so insensitive now, for people to have called him "Shorty", but we did.  He walked with the help of strap-on prosthetic legs.

My young friends and I were fascinated in the '60's by gruesome stories of Japanese torture of American prisoners of war.  When we "played war", though, it had always to be Americans vs. Germans.  None of us wanted to pretend to be Japanese soldiers.

I must wind this up, but check out The Stones Cry Out and The Burmese Harp for Japanese reflections on the war.


Shipboard Weddings

When I took a call once about weddings at sea, I discovered that they are not always easy to arrange such that the marriage is valid in the couple's home state.  Even the page at About.com, Get Married at Sea, which was the best source I found at the time, advises readers to check with their county clerk.

Sunday's New York Times devoted its Practical Traveler column to this topic, Saving by Tying the Knot at Sea.  The pitch here is that couples can save money over a lubberly wedding ashore, and combine it with the honeymoon.  But Michelle Higgins does a great job of touching on the potential obstacles couples can encounter.

While cruise lines advertise their weddings at sea as a straightforward package, there are other unique considerations couples must contend with when planning a cruise wedding. For one, only a few cruise lines — Princess, Celebrity and Azamara Club Cruises — have captains who can legally perform the ceremony. These lines have ships registered in Bermuda and Malta, which recognize marriages in international waters. So couples who choose to be married at sea with Celebrity, for example, will receive a marriage license from Malta.

Most other shipboard ceremonies take place in the port on the day of departure. This allows a local officiant to perform the ceremony and guests who don’t plan to sail with the couple to come aboard for the wedding and leave before the cruise embarks. Also, while it’s possible that a ship will need to skip a port of call for weather or other reasons, it’s unlikely the cruise will change the embarkation port.

Even if there are no glitches, choosing a port of call to be married in outside the United States can be tricky as each has its own legal requirements. Some destinations, like Belize and St. Maarten, require couples to undergo a waiting period of 3 and 10 days respectively to process an application. Others like the Cayman Islands have no residency requirements. “Honestly, we think you should just go to City Hall first,” said Carley Roney, editor in chief of theknot.com, a wedding Web site, which lists marriage license requirements for popular destinations.


Blogging Reference

10:00  Open.  After a scramble up the stairs by people rushing to queue up for tax help, it's dead quiet.  Not even PC sign-ups.

Check to make sure Negroes and the New Southern Politics, (Matthews and Prothro, 1966), is really missing before I make it so.  Tidying up records after some weeding in the 320's.

Put-putted on the Vespa past the March of Dimes people setting up by the Korean War Memorial in Cascade Park and in Myers Park..  Call R. to warn her not to go that way.  How many charity walks are there?  A lot!

Book about Scandinavian pagan 1000 years ago who converts & journeys to Holy Land.  Read it 7-8 years ago, can't remember title or author.  Take card number, say I will work on it.

MC. asks if story about Jewish family that adopts inner city children in NYC rings bell.  Patron thinks it was featured on Dianne Rehm show 10 mos. ago, but she can't find anything.  Say I'll work on it.

Boy teen:  legalization of marijuana.  Show Opposing Viewpoints db.

Phone:  Mr. Little.  Did I get list of companies he wants contacts for?  Yes, working on it.  Tells me about church steeple supplier he's rep for now.

Where is tax help?

Where is PC 40?  Where does it print?

10:56  PC's almost full.

What is street out front?  Call Street.

PC for Julian.

Ebony mag from 1960?  Only FAMU has it that far back, on microfilm.  Bound volumes appear to be uncommon.

Help kid make PC reservation w card.

PC's for Steve and Jimmy.

Paper for printer.  Already? Freestone says man had printout inches thick.

Where are State Archives?

Books by Lee Child in Large Print.  Don't have Persuader or The Killing Floor in LP.  Take ILL requests.  The Hard Way at bindery, will have to wait till it comes back.

Where to apply for card?

PC for Sarah.

PC's for Henry, Misha.

Phone:  How many miles is 1500 meters?  0.93

Will copier take a $5 bill?

12:40  Back from lunch.  L. is here, our volunteer.

Phone:  Woman upset at having lost work on PC at branch.  Hand off to Super.

Phone:  Middle-eastern voice.  Man concerned about ILL request, Will need in a couple of weeks.  Is waiting for pickup at PKY Branch.

TDD phone rings.  Type greeting, but no response.  Prob. wrong number.

Scandinavian Pagan man checks back.  No luck so far, but I will keep trying.

Make round.

Try to help woman find resources on Antisocial Personality Disorder, but she's already done the things I can think of, searched her school db's, etc..  I notice that there are lots of papers on this topic for sale on the web.  Her prof won't let them use web sources, which I see the Wikipedia entry  cites a lot, from the Mayo Clinic and elsewhere.  She thanks me anyway.

Phone:  Number for Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods in Milwaukie, Oregon.

Refill printers.

Phone:  Numbers for two Atlanta flea markets, and a somewhat inappropriate question about her pelvic radiation treatment.  I caution her that I'm not qualified to confidently provide her with good information, but I do end up reading her some material that I don't understand at all about "belly boards".  She seems to want to tell me all about her case, and I am feeling uncomfortable.  After a few minutes, though, she prods me again for more details about "belly boards"  I tell her in an apologetic tone that she really does need to ask her health professional.  She takes it well and thanks me.

2:45  Out on floor.  Help wholesome young hippie woman find Plenty:  One  Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by Alisa Smith and J. B. MacKinnon.

Where is section for American English?  She wants a book on dialects.  We find American Talk:  The Words and Ways of American Dialects by Robert Hendrickson.  "This is perfect!"

3:10  L. is gone.  Back at desk.

Show man where to plug in earbuds.

Phone:  Is Joan, who spent her life with her husband in the Panama Canal Zone, now a widow.  Do we have courtesy wheelchairs?  Don't know, call MC.  She thinks we have one, but it might be broken.  She goes to check.

Meanwhile, I'm giving out a PC reservation to a guy, and a man w a cane is sitting staring at the PC reserved for the guy, with a slip in his hand.  I realize that he has no idea how to start his session, and that it has expired already.  I ask the guy if he will let me give his slip to the man, and he kindly agrees.  I explain to the man how to type the confirmation number in to start.

MC returns, and yes, we have a wheelchair in good condition.  I tell Joan, who is glad to hear it.

I give the guy another reservation, but notice that the other man has still not managed to start his session.  I put in the number for him and open the session.  The browser opens.  He says he wants to get on the Internet.  Oh brother.  "Where do you want to go?", I say.  He wants to look for poetry publishers on Google.  I get him to the Google start page.  Has probably never touched a keyboard or typewriter in his life. 

Elizabeth at Georgia Bell Dickinson Apts., another of my ladies, has been holding for me on another line.  She doesn't like TV anymore.  It's too loud, hurts her ears.  Can she watch news broadcasts online with a smartphone?  I'm not sure, but I manage to hail MC who is passing.  She's pretty sure you can listen to streaming video on a smartphone.  I offer to mail the latest Consumer Reports smartphone roundup to Elizabeth.  She says she'd love to have it.

And here comes old Lee walking up.  Lifelong Tallahassean and patron of the library,  He has heard that our director is retiring, and wants to know when the party will be.  He reminisces about all the locations the library has had over the years.  He asks about proposed branch expansions, and wonders how the bookmobile is doing.  Can it be 10 years since I left the bookmobile, he exclaims?

Copy cell phone article.

Phone:   How to read Florida Statute citations.  What's the "squiggly, essy thing", (§)?  I call House Bill Drafting.  It's a symbol sometimes used as a stand-in for "section", though it is not used in the Florida Statutes themselves.

Help woman resize and print Word doc.

Phone:  How many households in Tallahassee?  Statistical digest only gives figure for county.  Find number at AOL Real Estate, but recommend he call city planning dept.

4:34  Heard the closing announcement while I was on the phone.

Help "unmount" USB drive.

Phone:  Portrait in Death by J. D. Robb.  Place hold.

Can he use the self-checkout machine?  Yes.

15 min. announcement.


"Wait, He's Helping Me."

Three young women approached the desk.  Did the library have any books on "tracking"?  I began the reference interview.  I learned that they were Education majors at FAMU, that "tracking" is the grouping of students by ability, and that they had not yet tried their university library.

I knew that we would probably not have any books on tracking.  As a public library, we do not purchase professional literature or journals.  I could have blown them off.  But there was something about the one girl, the one who had asked, that told me I must take the plunge, though I felt old and tired today.  A teaching moment.

Her two friends burst into laughter.  What was so funny?, I asked, wondering if I had made some gaffe.  She told me it was nothing I said, something else.  They wandered off.

Did she know about ERIC, the Education Resources Information Center? She did not.  I turned my LCD so that we could browse together.  I thought we might refine our search terms using the ERIC Thesaurus.  "Tracking", was an invalid descriptor, use "Track System".  Related terms were "Ability Grouping" and "Student Placement".

As we searched, I recalled how ERIC used to be all on microfiche in the basement of the FSU library.  You would search the index on microfiche and then view your article on microfiche as well.

I normally limit my ERIC searches to results for the last ten years, but that got me nothing.  And we did not, in fact, have any books on the subject.

It seems that tracking has not been an "issue" since the 1990's.  I found what looked like a good article at ERIC with a bibliography from 1997, full text online, and a promising web site with tracking resources, which I gave her the links for.

While we were exploring, her friends turned up, wanting to go.  "Wait", she said, "he's helping me."  I handed her the printouts.  She thanked me and rejoined her friends.  As she headed down the stairs to leave, she called out, "Thank you again sir!"  That was worth more to me than my paycheck.


Paranormal Romance Revisited

When I began this web log, one of my first posts, in September 2008 was about the phenomenon of vampire romance fiction.  I had mentioned a symposium at Monash University in Australia, "Vampires, Vamps and Va Va Voom: A Critical Engagement with Paranormal Romance".  Now littleread, an Australian blogger and EngLit scholar, has let me know that a podcast for the symposium was made available late last year.

It's now obvious that the Twilight series is getting the full "Harry Potter" marketing treatment.  But it's not just vampires now, it's paranormal, with werewolf romances, and even a burgeoning genre of jokey zombie fiction, including a silly Jane Austen take-off.  What's next, Egyptian mummies?  How about vampire boy meets zombie girl?

I don't know, but I think the girl has to be normal, and the boy must be the forbidden thing, the vampire or the werewolf.  Surely zombie dudes lack sex-appeal, no?  If women are fantasizing about hooking up with zombies, then I give up.

♪ ♫ Everyone is always putting him down, (down, down), my misunderstood zombie from the wrong side of town ♪


Fr. Cregan, RIP

We only found out at the Easter Vigil Mass tonight that Father James Cregan had died early Saturday morning, attended by our pastor, Monsignor O'Sullivan.  He had suffered much from Parkinson's Disease in recent years.  Father Cregan was about as holy a man as I have met, acquainted with suffering, and full of mercy.  He instructed me in the faith when I converted, received me into The Church, and blessed our marriage.  He and Mgr. O'Sullivan built Blessed Sacrament Parish up to the thriving parish it is today.  I know Father O. will miss him terribly, but it is well.

 +                    +                    +

Delicious Salad
Cliff and Georjean Thaell showed up at a pot-luck supper across the street not long ago, and Georjean brought a scrumptious potato & artichoke salad:

Let's see.  I boiled potatoes.  Actually, made it out of what I had available.  I love to create like that.  It's so fun.

Boiled new potatoes
Kirkland's marinated artichokes
organic spinach (raw)
sliced red bell pepper
a touch of salt, pepper and garlic powder

Put everything in bowl, quantities according to desired taste, adding some of the marinade from the artichokes last.
I mix it with my hands and love.
[Edit 4/13/10:  I've really been wanting to make the salad.  Scouted Publix and New Leaf, but found no Kirkland's artichoke hearts.  It seems that Cara Mia Kirkland Signature Marinated Artichoke Hearts can only be found on the shelf at Costco or Sam's, in a  large, 65 oz. jar.  One vendor says, "The Cara Mia brand marinade is a proprietary recipe and has many devotees who use both the artichokes and the marinade in a variety of recipes".  Marinated artichoke hearts have to be well-trimmed to be good.  Often one gets pithy outer leaves left on.  I had a feeling that I dare not make the salad with another brand.  I will have to visit Sam's.]


Triduum Curtailed

I had scheduled time off for us to attend the Holy Week rites, and we did make it to Holy Thursday.  But Ronda was so tied down at the Legislature, and I felt so poorly from my allergies, that we scaled back today and bailed on the 3 o'clock Stations of the Cross and the evening Good Friday service with the Veneration of the Cross.  We contented ourselves with breaking our fast at Bahn Thai and watching the Holy Father lead the stations at the Coliseum in Rome on EWTN.

Jesus sleeps in his tomb, having descended to the underworld to raise the souls of the righteous.