Blogging Reference

Rained all night, letting up in time for me to take the Vespa.

10:00  Open.  Working w SE today.

Today's paper. Already out, how about USA Today?  Takes that, asks me to see what we have on pit bulls, (groan)

Umbrella bag.  Bring out dispenser from closet.  "Supposed to rain all day today, 80% chance", says he.

The "Preacher" wants Thursday's paper.

All pit bull bks lost except couple at branches.

"Somebody got the Democrat?" Yes.

M. comes up to get her glasses from the desk.

Returns USA, orders pit bull bks.  Democrat? No.

Democrat? No

Doghouse Roses by Steve Earle.  Hasn't been able to find it for three months.  Take to shelf.  It's there.  Sorry, he says, he had been looking in Biography.  Hasn't been able to find anything, "ever since you got rid of Dewey Decimal.  I'm computer illiterate."  Prob means the card catalog.

PC for Gene.

PC for Tom.

Returns paper. Find guy who asked for it.

Deirdre sends call from Children's.  A+ certification.  Everything in coll. is out-of-date.  Offer interlibrary loan, make note to self.  Nothing in Learning Express online either.

Democrat? Still out.

The Lost Boy by David Pelzer, v. 2 of his trilogy.  Is in 362, Child Abuse, instead of Biography like the others.

Show how to reserve PC w card.

Phone:  Who plays Bobbie Spencer in General HospitalJacklyn Zeman.

Now that we're going to buy some e-books for the new readers, rewriting canned response to e-mail inquiries.

Returns paper, another man right behind to take it.

When is tax help?

One Love, One Heart: The History of Reggae by James Haskins.  Is down in Jr. Nonfiction.

Returns dictionary.

Anything on Zora Neale Hurston?  Happens we have ZNH materials on a Zeta Phi Beta sorority display.  Reserve Eyes... for her at NE branch.

When is tax help?

Where is PC 64?

Returns paper.

Tall, thin, bespectacled black matron in dress w several small children in tow:  Do we have Lessons in Truth?  Don't think so, who is author?  Unity.  What about Search for Serenity?  No. Anything by Paul Laurence Dunbar.  Read off list of holdings.  Thanks me but doesn't ask me for any of them.

1040 EZ?  We're temp out.

PC for Adrian.

PC for Chris.

12:00  Volunteer L. is here.  SE off to lunch.

Today's paper.

AN strides past in her boots & skirt to workroom, emerges w padded mailing envelopes, heading back downstairs.

Man w call no. slip, 878 T118C, old cutter number.  Take to shelf.  Modern Library ed. of Tacitus.

Orchids.  Take to shelf.  She looks at books, "Now, maybe I won't kill 'em".

I give up, call DT in Children's:  who is that in her FB profile pic?  Julianne Moore in The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio.

Phone:  A New Brand World: 8 Principles for Acheiving Brand Leadership in the 21st Century by Scott Bedbury.  Hold for Ashley.

12:44  Lunch

Chicken sandwich, Pepsi & A. N. Wilson's Hearing Voices on Park Avenue bench.  Breezy and warm w sun behind fleeting, ragged clouds.  Had no idea it was going to be about a Catholic family in the turmoil of post-Vatican II 1966, with Julian Ramsey as a sort of "Charles Ryder" Protestant hanger-on.

Smoking my postprandial cigarette, the sun moves over me from behind a tree, so I am getting warm.  A bee starts looking me over very closely.  Get up & shoo him away.  Sit down and here he comes again.  Repeat this twice and he goes for good in a stiff gust of wind.

1:44  Books on neuropathy?  Nothing.  Show Merck entry & she seems satisfied.

Phone:  Place holds for Sizzle by Julie Garwood, Deeper than the Dead by Tami Hoag and Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler.

1040 EZ forms?  We're out.

2:02  2nd floor is packed.  Tables in use by students working on projects.  Comfy chairs in magazine area mostly occupied by readers, carrels by laptop users, snoozers.

Refill printers w paper.  A lull.  SE off to "rove".

Boy complains of paper jam.  I unjam it, and he starts paging through the print-outs as they feed into the delivery tray, exactly what jammed it in the first place.  I tell him, testily, to wait until the printer is finished printing.

Phone:  Homeschooling teacher wonders whether we have the reading guide CD's that we handed out for the Big Read of Fahrenheit 451 last year.  Don't see in catalog.  Take her name & number.  Check with MC, she doesn't think we put them in either.

Phone:  A Mercy by Toni Morrison.  All copies out, place hold?  No, needs "ASAP".

Call teacher, tell her we didn't catalog the CD Audio Guide for Fahrenheit 451, suggest she call Mon. and talk to CH.  Maybe there are some still in Admin somewhere.

Books on telegraphy.  The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage, technical article from Ency of Sci & Tech, two articles from Ency Brit.

Back at desk, L. is gone.

Help Mom save picture of sphinx to flash drive.  Where can she get prints of pictures for kid's report?  Can get prints at CVS or Walgreen's, very cheap.  She's pleased.

Boy returns scissors and tape.

SE remarks that History Fair projects are due on Monday!

Scissors and tape go back out.

PC for Jerome.

PC for Tyler.

Do we have computers that aren't Internet?  Ask at Media desk for word processor.

PC for Evelyn.  30 min. wait now.  Could be worse.


How to get to ACCESS Florida food stamp start page.

Langston Hughes by Harold Bloom, ed.  Take to shelf.

PC for somebody.

Help selecting backup printer.

More help w food stamps app.

Copy some lesson plans from a floppy to a flash drive for a teacher to save her the wait.

Got that 3:45 droop.

Can use paper cutter?  Sorry, no.  Insurance forbids.

Evelyn says cancel her reservation.

Returns scissors, phone book.

Math books, take to shelf.

Can self-check DVD's up here?  No, sorry.

Can she have a bag?  Is going on bus.  Give her bag.

PC for Joshua.

Help w backup printer

St. Catherine of Sienna.  Butler's Lives, Cath Ency.

Leroy can't make reservation w card.  All PC's booked til closing at 5:00.

Books about slavery.  Give her bunch of call numbers, her session's about to start & she can't come to shelves w me.

Take buckets of crayons back down to Youth Services.  Checkout line is very long.

30 min. closing announcement.  SE's already counted cash drawer.

Help w copier

ILL renewal request for The Rough Guide to Climate Change by Robert Henson.  Send to lending library & put print-out in KF's renewal tray

Woman distressed that no PC's available.  Had almost completed flight reservation when session ended.  All booked.

Man desperate to download & print doc.  No can do, sorry.  All PC's booked.  All right, we nabbed him one.

Last-minute request for The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which has snowballed into a word-of-mouth bestseller.  The library now owns about 30 copies, with 112 outstanding requests.  I alone have taken 3 or 4 requests at the desk or by phone this week.

5:00  Closed.

Victor Nunez: Looking at Florida Like a Native

 Good story on Victor Nunez, maker of many films set in North Florida, such as Gal Young 'Un, Ruby in Paradise, and Ulee's Gold,  in FSU's Research in Review magazine. Best to download the issue to see the accompanying photographs. Also a fine piece in From the Field, Wish You Were Here: A Portrait of Florida's Real-Estate Crisis.


Tax Time, James Patterson,

Tax Man
It's show time for SE, who orders and puts out on tables the most needed tax forms.  Printed tax forms, like lots of other printed government forms, are going away.  Uncle Sam wants you to file online.  And if you can't take the hint, the local IRS office has moved out of the convenient City Center building, (which houses local offices of Fed agencies across the street from the main library), to an obscure location on the east side, following the Social Security office, which did the same a couple of years ago.

Unfortunately, if you want to "e-file" at the library using the TurboTax program that the IRS links to, not all of our public access PC's meet TurboTax's system requirements.  Minimum requirements are Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6.  Many of the older public access PC's in Adult Services on the second floor still have Windows 2000, so we have to give e-filers who get one of them another session downstairs in Tech/Media, which has newer PC's.

The intrepid AARP volunteers will begin their tax help service on Monday, February 1st, filing returns online.

The NYT had a very interesting article about James Patterson in the Sunday Magazine.  Love him or hate him, Patterson seems to have found the sweet spot for popular fiction.  He has a huge following, and he has contracted with Little Brown to deliver an astonishing 17 titles, adult and juvenile, in the coming year.  He has an advertising background.  He has thought about what "ordinary" people like to read, people who otherwise find books intimidating.  And he's gotten rich writing for them.

The library has "new" shelves, where readers can browse fiction releases for the last twelve months.  In the past, bestseller authors typically released two titles per year, spring and fall.  Patterson has become an invasive species, whom we must prune aggressively, so that he will not grab too much "new" shelf space. 

Is there a problem here?  I don't think so.  We purchase and lease many copies of bestsellers to meet popular demand.  It is instrumental in ensuring popular support for the library.  That support translates into budget dollars to buy other, worthwhile titles that are not so much in demand.  And Patterson readers can grow into all around readers, as I have seen in the past with readers who started with Stephen King.

His books all share stylistic similarities. They are light on atmospherics and heavy on action, conveyed by simple, colloquial sentences.  “I don’t believe in showing off,” Patterson says of his writing. “Showing off can get in the way of a good story.”
 He avoids description, back story and scene setting whenever possible, preferring to hurl readers into the action and establish his characters with a minimum of telegraphic details.
Contrast this with a book like Christopher Koch's The Memory Room, which opens with pages of detailed, vivid description, and scarcely any action at all, apart from the memories that the setting evokes in the mind of the narrator.  This, to me, is nectar, and would probably be boring as hell for your Patterson reader.

Koch, an Australian writer, is practically unknown here except for The Year of Living Dangerously, which became a successful film.  A native Tasmanian of Irish Catholic descent, he is a rare bird.

I had to put The Memory Room aside, as the fourth volume of A. N. Wilson's Lampitt Chronicles, Hearing Voices, came in on interlibrary loan.


Off the Top

A New Generation.
I am enormously pleased to see a new generation arriving and moving up at the library since  the hiring freeze has been somewhat relaxed.  A couple of women who persevered in paraprofessional positions long after they had earned their MLS's have finally been promoted to IP and more over the last year.  We have had new arrivals too.  A very talented young woman who is also a military veteran transferred to our now combined Adult/Tech-Media Services department from another county agency.  And now another  bright young woman has been hired to replace my dear comrade, JR, who retired last summer.  She comes from Michigan with a newly-minted MLS and a year-long internship in reference in Missouri.

I hope that they will stay.  Some of us who interviewed and hired them will one day soon be "withdrawn".

Robert B. Parker: Rest in Peace, Muchacho.
He had already been writing for almost ten years when he was recommended to me by a Random House colleague of my wife's around 1982.  I think The Widening Gyre, (1983), was the last thing I read by him.  Spenser broke the mold of the hard-boiled detective.  He was "sensitive", (he shared cooking and chores with his girlfriend, Susan, listened to her, and valued her counsel), and he had a black partner, Hawk, who was more than a "sidekick".  My father-in-law, Ron Hansen, loved to read Spenser mysteries.

I don't know what remains to be published, but with no new output, Parker's claim on shelf-space in our fiction collection begins its decline, like a balloon with a slow leak.  At a wild guess, he has something like thirty feet now, with many extra copies stored up high.  John D. MacDonald, who died in 1986, now has about half that.

Rankin Disappoints.
I gave it a couple of sittings, but I have abandoned Ian Rankin's latest, Inspector Rebus-less, Doors Open.  Why?  I am trying to pin it down.  Without Rebus, has Rankin's class resentment, now free-floating, become tiresome?  On the other hand, it is about an art-forgery/heist, and art-crime novels don't usually click with me, since I can't picture what they are talking about if they go beyond the basic Humanities class pantheon of artists.

The strongest character in Doors Open is the gangster, Chib Calloway, a reincarnation of Rebus's nemesis, Big Ger Cafferty.  Indeed, Cafferty seemed to overshadow Rebus at the end.

I can't imagine how hard it must be to come up with something new after writing for a successful fictional character for decades.  Doyle was defeated by Sherlock Holmes.  John Harvey, curiously, also turned to art forgery after he concluded his Charlie Resnick series, in In A True Light, which I did enjoy.


The Internet at a Crossroads: An Insider Contrarian's View

I just finished You Are Not A Gadget:  A Manifesto, by Jaron Lanier.  I had never heard of him, but he is described on the back dust-jacket flap as "the father of virtual reality", having actually coined the term.  He was once a roommate of Richard Stallman, the apostle of the Free Software movement.

Lanier thinks it is time to reassess the Internet, measuring it against what his community had hoped it might be.  He scrutinizes a number of fashionable ideas:  Open Source, Web 2.0, Wikipedia, the Singularity and related theories, and finds them wanting.  All of them, he believes, are the products of a "cybernetic totalism" that devalues human dignity in the service of the collective "hive" of the Cloud.  Against this, he offers a Humanistic vision that protects and rewards the creativity of individual persons.

Librarians heard a lot about Web 2.0 back in the early to mid-'00's.  We must get on board with social networking, create MySpace and Facebook pages for our libraries, open ourselves to instant messages and text messages, populate virtual reference chat rooms.  We must "go where the users are", and become "Library 2.0".

I think that this was a worthwhile impulse.  There was a lot of buzz about Web 2.0, and libraries ought to have taken it seriously.  How has it panned out?  I have been doing chat reference for six years, as part of Florida's collaborative, state-wide Ask-a-Librarian project.  It is generous to estimate that a quarter of the chat inquiries we receive are appropriate for collaborative chat reference.  The remainder are noise from bored schoolchildren, or would be better placed as e-mail or phone calls to local reference desks.  Aren't phone calls "virtual reference"?

As a manifesto, Lanier's book is pretty gentle.  He is not "anti-Internet", he just wants us to think about the consequences of the choices that are being offered.  It is only about 200 pages, so take a look at it.




Living in Tallahassee is living in a forest. Having grown up in Central Florida, and lived out West, I can't get enough sky here. Some of these were taken from the second floor landing of the library on Park Avenue, and all with the little Vivitar Mini Digital Camera.


The Paper Chase

A story in the Sunday New York Times, Recession Spurs Interest in Graduate, Law Schools, confirms my casual observation recently that our GRE test prep books were moving much more than they used to, and were now rarely found on the shelf. The number of people taking the LSAT was up 20% year-to-date in October 2009, the GRE 13%.

David G. Payne, the Educational Testing Service’s vice president and chief operating officer for college and graduate programs, said the rise in interest in graduate programs was tied to the troubled economy and increased school recruiting.
“When job creation slows, there’s an increase in the number of people who pursue a graduate degree,” Mr. Payne said.
It is not news that testing is a major, lucrative industry now.  Sell the test to institutions, sell test preparation to the students.

One new star in the testing firmament, Assessment Technologies Institute, won't even sell their study manual for the TEAS®, the Test of Essential Academic Skills, (which they are flogging to nursing schools as an entrance exam), to libraries or "resource centers".  "The TEAS® Study Manual is copyrighted and only available for a single use. The TEAS® Study Manual is not appropriate for library or resource center purchases."  That will be $38.95, please.

Even Peterson's, publisher of many books on test preparation, school loans, college programs and internships, appears to be moving in this direction.  Looking for a replacement for a dated 2002 title on internships, I discovered that it has not been updated since 2005, and that their web site has morphed into an education "portal".

Revenue streams, Digital Rights Management.  I love the "quote" that ATI has on its main page, accompanied by a photo of a bespectacled, (i.e. smart), minority student, "I'm not scared of needles, but tests make me a nervous wreck."  Fear not, ATI is here to help, as soon as you enter your credit card number and expiration date.

No one studied for the SAT when I was in high school.  The point of it was to measure your aptitude as you were, right?  And twenty-five years later I took the GRE cold as well.  Surely it is debatable whether studying for an aptitude test is of any use?


The View From My Desk

I don't actually have my own office.  I share a "workroom annex" with three others of our seven reference librarians.  But I have a very nice corner desk with my own floor-to-ceiling east window to look out of.  The photos were taken Friday morning with the little Vivitar mini-cam.  There had been sleet in the early morning, and it was very cold outside.

A barren crape myrtle in the foreground, with a magnolia outside the program rooms on the first floor.


Panning right, the back of The Columns, one of the oldest structures in Tallahassee, dating from 1830.  Ante-bellum townhouse of wealthy planter Benjamin Chaires, then a bank.  It was the first home of this library in the 1950's, then a boarding house, before it was moved a block to its current location, where it houses the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.

I wondered whether these shots would "look" cold.  I think they succeed, no?

Panning left, the south wall of the library's east wing, where, on the second floor, non-fiction is located.  Taken later, after the sky had cleared.

Now you have looked out my office window!


Blogging Reference

Got up early enough to make myself a serious breakfast:  eggs, grits, a slice of Christmas ham from the freezer.  31° up on the hill when I left the house.  R. dropped me off, no scooter this morning!

Five people now at the doors on the second floor just before opening.  Where have they been waiting?

Tax forms were put out on tables yesterday, but AARP help won't begin until Feb.

MF is with me this a.m.

10:00  We see people coming up the stairs, but the opening announcement has not been made.  Oh well...  Open the doors, maybe ten folks now.  Some gasp with relief to be out of the cold.

Will get card Tuesday, but what to do now for PC?  Wait til 5 after for guest pass.

Repair manual for '94 Camaro.  Have Haynes manual.  Show Mitchell books, auto repair db.

ASVAB* book, all are out.  Show test prep db, reserve book.  Have Malay language resources?  No.  Is taking Malay test for Army.

Camaro guy & wife met friend as we finished, and they are deep in car talk, laughing and smiling.

Today's Paper, take ID.

Phone:  Numbers for Wizard Business Center, Centerville Mart, Circle K.

Today's paper? Is out.

PC for Greg, help find site for Agency for Workforce Innovation.

Phone: early titles by Tracie Peterson or under her pseudonym, Janelle Jamison.  No luck.

10:41  PC's are pretty full for a Sat. morn.  23 people.  Freestone is there, Australian Myrna.

Doll books?  Has Effanbee doll.  We find material in several books.  She's excited.  Doll is 70 yrs. old, was her own.  I say I'll check at desk for Internet info.

Puzzled man asks if Windows is meant to shut down after session.  Explain yes, PC's shut down, wipe all and start clean.

Distinguished older gent w felt hat & coat asks about story he heard as boy, The Man Without a Country.  Has idea that Guantanamo detainees could be put permanently on ship.  Yes, was not actually true story.  Written by Edward Everett Hale.  I go to pull it.  Not there!  Pull out books, find it fallen in back.  Small, old blue cloth-bound vol w Riverside Press piper logo stamped on front,1951.  He doesn't want to read the whole thing, wants summary.  Print out summary from Wikipedia.  I heard the same story as a boy, and also thought it was true.  Hale was a Northern clergyman, wrote it during the Civil War to shame the South.

Effanbee lady is back.  Have found co.'s web site and collector info at About.com.  Company has number to call for doll ID and doll hospital.  Does she know which doll she has?  No.  "It's got a music box inside, and it still works!"  Give her the print-outs.  "This has been a day of learning!", she says to herself as she turns away.


Help woman print out map of Gambia from CIA World Factbook.

Phone:  MS Office 2003 book, really simple?  Have Dummies book.  Hold for Anita.

PC for Michelle.

PC for Bill.

PC for Brandon.

12:05  L. is here, time for lunch.

1:02  Back and v busy.

Opened Henderson Room for Democratic Club.

Help English woman find painting books.

Woman in coat and scarf remarks at length upon the cold weather, asks about tax help.

Where is Henderson Room?

K. asks to renew ILL's, then changes mind and turns one in.

Refill display from New Book shelves.

Get woman started w catalog search.

The Intuitive Way: A Guide to Living from Inner Wisdom by Penney Pierce, don't own, take ILL request.  What Becomes of the Brokenhearted by E. Lynn Harris, not on shelf.  She'll pick up copy at branch.

PC for Tim.

Ford Country by Grisham, True Blue by Baldacci, place holds.  Where is other Baldacci?  Usually uses LJ branch.

1:37  Working in back, finishing poster for natural history display.  What to call it?  Natural History?  No, "history" is off-putting, dry.  The Discovery of Nature?  No, "discovery" is so overused now, sounds like a science museum for kids, or tv channel.  Going with "A Passion for Nature".

3:10  L. left at three.  Finished the display, made circuit of 2nd floor.  All is well.  Democrats still holding forth in Henderson Room.

3:26  Too busy to blog.  Tried to help man find picture of large lizard he saw in Belize in Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, but failed.  He couldn't remember what they called it, will call friends and find out.

Chinese woman wants Rockin' in Time:  A Social History of Rock 'n' Roll.

First book to go from display is Winter World:  the Ingenuity of Animal Survival by Bernd Heinrich.

Take man back to look for poker books, hear tremendous bumping and squealing, laughing sounds.  Three girl teens have set up chairs in aisle w laptops.  Ask them to quiet down, will have to move chairs: ADA rules.  They are contrite.

Democrat woman says they're done w room.

Printer problem, several peoples' jobs not going to queue.  It says "Ready", but does nothing.  Get people to cancel all their jobs, turn printer off/on.  Now it works.  It was just silently freaking out w too many jobs.

4:05  Still too busy to blog.

Put new roll of paper in PC Reservation printer.

Man wants PC, says has card, but not with him, yet wants to choose one on first floor.  Is incentive to bring card, say I, and he knows it, being a regular.  Gave card to son.  Bring card, I insist, get son his own card.

Boy wants The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks.  Clever lad even checked the carts, seeing its status was "reshelving".  Find in check-in room.

Why's her son have reservation for only 15 minutes?  Because library closes at 5.

Pull a couple more for display back-stock by Bernd Heinrich, Summer World:  A Season of Bounty and The Trees in My Forest.  Hear 30 min. closing announcement.

Out of Gas on Lover's Leap by Mark St. Germain, a play.  Nope.

15 min. announcement.

Pick up magazines, papers, turn off PC's.

*Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery


Into the Warm

Shelter from the cold wave and Internet congestion are the stories at the library this week.  Monday morning saw a huddle of bundled, hooded folks waiting for the doors to open.  If they were turned out of the homeless shelter at 8 a.m., as is the custom, then they had a 2-hour wait to get in.

USA Today had an article on Wednesday, Cold snap 'horrifying' for homeless, detailing measures that cities are taking to accommodate people with nowhere to go.  Birmingham, Alabama has set up a "warming center" in an auditorium.

The library was clearly serving as a warming center this week.  By Tuesday afternoon, all of the several dozen upholstered chairs in the reading areas were occupied, which I don't remember seeing before.  Many others occupied carrels in the wings.  We had no problems, though.  Everyone found something to read and "unchilled" in comfort.

The winter break from school  was still on, and all those students online at home caused some network congestion, as they do every year.  We had problems with users unable to connect to Yahoo, to claim their weeks for unemployment compensation, and in one case, to even get a Google search page.

Today public school resumed, the cold relented a little, and calm returned to the library.  The homeless white guys sat in the sun on park benches, and kids from the Life Skills Academy were glad to see each other after the break in the park gazebo.  A group of boys gathered around an ornamental iron trash receptacle, drumming upon it and rapping together, as I sat with my book, coffee, and cigarette after supper.

The evening shift was very quiet.  I caught up on my professional reading, and was content in the company of our new supervisor, M., and with our new shelver, C., both former bookmobilers like myself.  "The Marines of the Library."  Hooah!

They say there is a chance of sleet in the morning, and more freezing temperatures.  I am wearing heavy sweaters that I haven't been able to wear in years.


Wikipedia: The People Have Spoken

It is gratifying to read Jimmy Wales's thank-you message for having raised 7.5 million dollars to support Wikipedia.  There is still a lingering disapproval of Wikipedia among librarians and educators.  It is still not thought good enough to cite, but many of us recommend it as a starting point for a search, because the references and external links are generally very good, and save us a lot of work.

I've compared entries in Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica, and the EB, when it covers a topic, unquestionably wins on style.  You sense a university lecturer at work.  If you need an entry on , oh, say, the Boer War, the EB will have the better entry.  But it is not free, and if you purchase the CD-ROM version, as I did, you often feel circumscribed.  The entries don't lead you out into the greater Web with hyperlinks, as Wikipedia does.  Admittedly, I have the 2004 edition of the EB.

And Wikipedia has so many articles that you will never find in another encyclopedia:  entries on IBM mainframes, for example.



Epiphany marks the arrival of the "Three Kings" at Bethlehem to witness the birth of the Christ-Child.  The Magi, (translated "wise men" in English), were not kings, but Zoroastrian priests.

Here is a poem by T.S. Eliot, written in 1927, shortly after his conversion.  It speaks to me of the difficulties of an adult conversion, the hardness of turning one's feet from an old life, with its familiar people and places, that has become unbearable, and of the improbable, doubtful, smallness of the new life.

The Journey of the Magi
A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wineskins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Some criticism.

Times Reader take two - Typblography


The Times Reader, an app for the Adobe Air platform, made its debut last May, but I didn't discover it until Adobe Reader Update offered to install it recently.  I subscribe to the print edition of the Sunday New York Times, which affords me access at no extra cost to all online content as well.  My online account with the NYT is actually the oldest one I have.  It must date from '94 or '95.

For years I have gotten daily digests of the NYT by e-mail which alert me to the top stories in my selected sections of the paper, but I am getting to like the Times Reader better, and I may unsubscribe the digest.  The Times Reader lets me browse a week's worth of the paper, an issue at a time, starting with the front page, very much as if I had the print edition at hand.  I am not limited by the digest's "top picks" format.

The Times Reader does not include all the web content, the NYT blogs, and the slide shows and videos, but if you want an online experience of the print edition, it is worth a try.