January 02, 2004
Happy New Year!
Resolutions - this year I actually resolve to have some. I might even stick with them.
1. Be punctual. Turns out that the New Year's Eve party we were invited to was actually a dinner party. We turned up an hour late, thinking it was just a regular party. And we'd had dinner. Oops. So no more making others wait for me, or stressing out because I didn't give myself enough time to get somewhere.
2. Pay off debt. Student loans, credit cards, my sister.
3. Save up money. For a safety net, a house, retirement, for the next Pemberley trip to England.
4. Professional development. Need to keep up with professional reading, new research tools, association meetings. I want to do well at my job so that if another librarian position opens up at my firm, I can demonstrate that I'm the one for the job.
5. Become more organized. Still surrounded by boxes, although I've purged a great deal of stuff. Unfortunately there's still plenty to sort through. Need to be less sentimental about the things that were important to me, like, in the seventh grade. As a corollary, I should shop less impulsively - borrow more books and movies and CDs from the library, and consider whether I really need yet another pair of shoes. Even though my new Isaacs were totally worth it.
6. Cook more; eat out less. For Christmas, I was given some new cookbooks, a bakeware set, a crockpot, and my first Cuisinart (the mini-chopper). And we've just been invited to a potluck Chinese New Year dinner party, so I must continue improving my cooking skills.
7. Find a fitness regimen and stick with it. I've been walking around the neighborhood a bit, but it'll be too dark to do that when I get home from work. It seems I do better when I'm with other people, so I think I need a class. Maybe yoga, or kickboxing. Swashbuckling would be nice.
8. Quit the perfectionist streak. For instance, I could have two more resolutions to make it an even 10, but these are quite enough to work on.
January 07, 2004
Brain is Toast
After my first two days on the job - I've been in training with my predecessor and the usual orientation stuff. Tomorrow I have to start proving myself. But judging by some of the perks - my own office, the fact that I can go to supply room whenever I want, breakfast every Monday, and the deluxe break room - a variety of coffees and chai, as well as the wall of microwaves, a toaster, and a bagel slicer - this is a much nicer firm than my last one. I'm a little skittish though as to how accessible I'll be online.
My new boss took me to lunch today. She startled me by asking me about my political leanings - I was startled more so by the simple directness of the question, as though she were asking me how I liked my coffee, cream and sugar. So without thinking I said I leaned to the left, which would have been enough, but I went on to express that I wasn't particularly happy with the current situation. That's as much as I said, but I realized I could have been more circumspect when she reacted with surprise and said how I'd balance out the spectrum in the department, as everyone else is fairly Republican. Nice, Lady C.
Well, she asked, didn't she? This Yankee liberal should remember that she's back in the South, where apparently it's no longer an issue for Southerners to have embraced the party of Lincoln. Anyway, the firm's not completely bluenose conservative; I gather that there are bluenose Dems as well. Oh well - I'm not one for political chitchat anyway - as much as I rant here on this space, such topics don't make for civil conversation in person.
January 15, 2004
Alive and Kicking
Today was my first payday, hurrah! During lunch I marched down to the bank branch in my building and set up my free checking and savings accounts (so long as I direct deposit my paychecks). The banker told me our workplace banking plan was better than what the bank's employees get.
Settling into the job okay. A few flubs here and there, but easily corrected and no "omigodwhathaveyoudone" responses such as I was wont to hear in regard to equally minor incidents before. Could it be that people here really are this nice? Even the banker told me his brother works in our firm's DC office and that he likes it.
Was in Nawlins over the weekend. Stayed with my friend Herman - previously known to me only online. Amusing and surreal to be acquaintances yet still meeting in person for the first time. We shook hands and proceeded to try out his vintage pinball and skeeball machines - he has this lovely house filled with all manner of old toys. As a whimsical house gift we'd found him a Herman Munster bobblehead. He's another hardcore academic, so we didn't see him much over the weekend.
We ventured on our own around the Garden District and the French Quarter.
Realized we'd passed the Anne Rice house when we saw people taking pictures of it. Covered six bookstores in two days and tried to get a good sampling of the local fare. Surprisingly enough, drinking was not the highest priority, though I should've had a daquiri just so I could walk around with an open container.
For lunch, great burgers at Port of Call - a cheeseburger is presented with a mound of shredded cheese and a baked potato on the side. Full-size bottles of Tabasco at tableside - no surprise there.
Later, met up with Herman to get our name on the list at Jacques Imo's, another famed local joint, then came back in an hour to continue the wait for perhaps another hour and a half. Fortunately, when we each checked with the hostess during the wait, we spoke with different women, so we weren't completely harassing them. Ah, the food - completely worth the wait. The appetizer, Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake, was absolutely divine. Good green salads and hot cornbread all around. New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp for Scott, Paneed Duck with Sweet Potato Shrimp Sauce for me, an Eggplant Pirogue with mixed Seafood and Lemon Cheese Sauce for Herman. We also split a slice of complimentary triple chocolate mousse pie, headed back to the house and passed out - it was midnight by then.
Sunday was another day in the Quarter. Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde, bookstores, a brief ferry ride across the river and back, walking around taking pictures with the new digicam (to be posted soon). Lunch at Acme Oyster Bar (House?) - red beans & rice & sausage, some fried oysters, hushpuppies, hot sausage po-boy and gumbo between us. Late, but uneventful flight home.
January 20, 2004
Guys, take note: When your significant other screams "Spider! Spider!" which she can still see, even without glasses, whilst in the shower*, you should be there upon the first exclamation of "Spider!" to rid the earth of this pestilence.
*Meaning it was practically the size of Shelob, damn it!
To Plugin or Not to Plugin?
It did get me to thinking, though. Is there a plugin that would allow you to not display posts for a certain category on the main page of the blog? Scott Andrew described one that seems to work, MT Exclude Categories. Posts for that category would not appear with all the other entries, but could still be accessible through your category listings (unless you used a plugin to filter out the category from the list as well).
Although I haven't written much of anything lately, the idea occurred to me because I wondered how I could separate more personal entries from the librariana-related posts. Technically, those entries would still be accessible for those who want to read them - clicking on the category name would pull up all posts from the category. Unfortunately, using this particular plugin means that posts filed under several categories still would be filtered from the main page if one of the categories was specified in the plugin.
Apart from technical issues and usability issues - will people still want to read certain posts if they have to click beyond the main page? - what about how that fits in with the nature of blogging? If I'm not mistaken, I believe there are blogging tools or plugins that allow you to limit certain posts, if not the entire blog, to registered users. Or at least that's something in the works. After finding out recently how I came up as a minor subject of gossip I realized that there are people I really, really don't want to know about the blog. But having a protected, registered-user site rather limits who gets to read the blog - is that really such a good idea? I suppose it depends on who your audience is supposed to be - if it's just your friends or family or colleagues, sure. But if you're aiming for a wider audience, how many people won't bother to read if they have to sign up for yet another id and password?
What if I were to write a post but not publish it? Or write it but use plugins as just described so that a post is written, but because it's filtered from both the page and the category list, the post only exists for me as the writer? Or more simply, why write the post at all? Another possibility is to maintain a separate blog - for instance, having a true librarian blog, one that's tightly focused on issues or resources of interest as a librarian. Although my description does say "librariana, literature and the law" the Armoire has been more of a common-place book of late.
And one final issue: Although as MT users we have options with comments - none, allow them, or allow them but only to people who leave an email address and/or URL - what is appropriate, at least for bloggers who allow for comments? I started out with open comments, which is most reader-friendly, but that always leaves the possibility of people posting who choose not to leave any information, which I think is annoying and cowardly, especially if you're going to post something critical. I do realize people have privacy concerns - and as a blogger I know that I am choosing to put more of myself out there, even under a pseudonym, than someone who's merely leaving a comment. At the same time, whether the perception is merited or not, I'm less inclined to take your comment seriously if you won't leave a way for me to get in touch with you privately. Anyway it's not like this has really happened a lot, and I'm more concerned about f*cking spambots which are more than willing to fill out all the blanks with all of their bogus crap.
Thoughts? I open up the comments to all, including you anonymous wusses. ;)
January 21, 2004
West to Outsource to East?
West, one of the giants in legal publishing, has set up a "test office" in India, where Indian lawyers are writing up case summaries and headnotes. The American editor-lawyers can make up to $100,000 a year, which is at least five times what the Indian lawyers are paid.
On business: Outsourcing hits legal services (Neal St. Anthony, Star Tribune, 1/16/04)
Now, Outsourcing to Hit US Lawyers (The Economic Times / India Times, 1/16/04)
January 22, 2004
Happy Year of the Monkey
It's Chinese New Year, and tonight we co-host a dinner party with our neighbors. Last count is 15(!) but it's fairly casual, sorta potluck, a mix of the homemade, the storebought and the takeout. Several kinds of Asian beer, some plum wine, and a California cabernet sauvignon that I picked up simply because there were cute monkeys on the wine label.
In the past few days I've had the excuse of going to the Chinatown area and the farmers market for special ingredients. And in the process, I discovered a second source for garlic bagels and now I have access to crumpets once more (at Publix, of all places)!
What I'm contributing:
Cold Szechuan Noodles and Shredded Vegetables - I'm using udon noodles instead of dried soba because I found those first. Unfortunately they're still thawing out so I couldn't let them marinate today. Will have to do it when I get home. Stayed up late learning how to julienne carrots and red peppers. The recipe calls for green onions, but I'm using chopped up chives instead so people won't be afraid to eat the dish.
These are all ready-made and easy to cook, though I might use the microwave instead of steaming or boiling if I'm pressed for time:
vegetarian dumplings of the pouch and gyoza varieties
vegetarian mini buns
chicken egg rolls
I also thought of chopping up some cucumbers and adding a spicy pickle sauce, but I think I'll skip that and just mix up some mild and spicy dipping sauces for the dumplings.
I realize that my question was buried at the bottom of the post, but I am rather curious as to what you fellow bloggers think. So to reiterate:
Allow anonymous comments, or ask that comments be accompanied by contact information? Explain.
And to be clear, I've configured the comments so that even the people with something to hide can say what's on their minds.
January 23, 2004
Today's Paul Krugman column: Democracy at Risk. He spells out, to a wider audience than has been keeping tabs thus far, about the risks and dangers of Diebold's touch-screen voting machines. He gives a shoutout to the problems here in Georgia, which uses these machines - which I'm supposed to use this election year to allegedly record my vote in the upcoming election?!? You can't even get a printout that confirms your vote - we can get printouts at ATMs but not from the e-voting machine? How messed up is that?
Zephoria suggests that we get around having to use Diebold (or other) electronic voting machines by registering for absentee paper ballots, which I'm strongly considering.
And lest I sound paranoid:
Infiltration of Files Seen as Extensive: Senate Panel's GOP Staff Pried on Democrats [1/22/03, Charlie Savage, The Boston Globe]
Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.
From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.
The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle has already launched an investigation into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos showed up in the pages of the conservative-leaning newspapers and were posted to a website last November.
Senate Inquiry Into Memos That Went Astray Nears End [1/23/03, Neil A. Lewis, NYT]
Manuel C. Miranda, a former Republican Judiciary Committee staff member, whose name appeared as a recipient of one of the Democratic e-mail messages and who has been questioned by Mr. Pickle's investigators, said in an interview Thursday that he knew how the documents were obtained by Republicans. He said that a junior member on the staff of Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had discovered a flaw in the computer system that allowed him to read some of the Democratic computer traffic.
Mr. Miranda, who is now a senior staff aide to Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader, said that the junior aide was reading the Democratic documents from about May 2002 until the early fall of 2002. The aide, who has since left the Senate, passed some of those memorandums to Mr. Miranda and other Hatch staff members, Mr. Miranda said.
"Those documents that I did read were, in my view, not obtained in any way that was improper, unlawful or unethical," he said. He described them as "inadvertent disclosures that came to me as a result of some negligence on the part of the Democrats' technology staff." His only obligation, he said, was to see that the Democrats were told that the computer system had a flaw that allowed Republican aides to read some of their memorandums.
"I knew our people had told their people about it," Mr. Miranda said. "Once I knew that, I had no further obligation."
He described the junior staff aide as someone who had a great deal of time on his hands, and he said most of the documents the aide gave him were of little value.
"There was no systematic surveillance, no hacking, no stealing and no violation of any Senate rules," he said.
Sure, this isn't political espionage. It's not political insider trading. The ends justify the means, yadda yadda.
January 24, 2004
Notes from a Dinner Party
The day of the party I had a tickle in the back of my throat. By yesterday it had become a full-blown flu - general fogheadedness, stuffiness, sore-throatedness. Lucky me. I'd be in bed right now except there are Canadians flying down from Nova Scotia to come look at our duplex with the realtor, and there are still dirty dishes from the Thursday night extravaganza. I'm really not looking forward to possibly having to move this summer.
But the dinner party. It's great to co-host at a duplex - there are two sets of kitchens to work with. We'd just shuttle back and forth whenever we'd have a dish ready for the buffet table. We pooled our tables together and covered them with red paper tablecloths and somehow scrounged up enough chairs. There were paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling with red bulbs. Everybody wore a bit of red.
There was an overabundance of food - afterwards we joked that we should've cooked for seven instead of fifteen. Damn these scrawny gay men who watch their figures! One of the guests, a friend of one of the other hosts, doesn't care for Chinese food; he brought a burger, fries and a milkshake from Zesto's. (Fortunately we'd known he would, otherwise I might have been a tad miffed.) The noodles went over well, and someone had made a marvelous chocolate torte with orange zest and some ultra-thin cookies that were a vehicle for more orange zest. Mmmmm.
It was a good party - good food, friends, and conversation. And I definitely enjoy co-hosting - that way it's a group effort, and less pressure to be individually brilliant (well, at least competent).We got to see a friend whom we hadn't seen since we were in New York. He and his girlfriend had just gotten engaged and I begged him to describe the ring and tell us about the proposal - a very funny, happy story. But weeknights are hard - it seemed that in no time people had to be getting home because we all had to get up for work the next day.
Anyway, we have enough, if we wanted, to throw a Finish the Leftovers Party. But even cold dumplings and noodles were a welcome lunch at my desk the next day.
January 27, 2004
Jane Austen, Public Theologian
Peter J. Leithart's titled article appears in the January issue of First Things, the Journal of Religion and Public Life. (First Things 139 (January 2004): 28-38)
January 28, 2004
The Tyranny of Copyright?
Article by Robert S. Boynton in the 1/25 issue of NYT Magazine.
January 29, 2004
You Know That Song? From That Commercial?
AdTunes.com is a weblog that covers music used in " television commercials, movie trailers, movie soundtracks, tv shows, video games and more." There are archives, of course, as well as a forum where you can post or answer questions. They're also searchable, which means I finally(!!!) know whose song was used for a VW commercial - the one where a group of friends are driving with the top down at night, a full moon overhead, the light filtering through the trees. They're heading to a party, but when they get there, no one wants to get out. So they get back on the road, driving into that endless moonlit night. The music is spare and beautiful - and it's haunted me ever since.
January 30, 2004
Riding the Elevators
The way my office is situated, I have to take two sets of elevators just to get to my desk. So most of the time, my forays around the office - to pick up books, to drop off invoices, to get a steaming cup of chai - result in my getting in and out of elevators throughout the day. While there are the emergency stairs, there doesn't seem to be an inner staircase that connects my floor to the other floors (there's one for the lower floors). Otherwise I'd be getting superfit in no time.
Just back from a trip to Accounting, with a bonus cup of chai to sweeten the journey. Although billing issues aren't my favorite aspect of the job, the process here is a lot less brain-numbing. I'm not the one processing the bills (hurrah!), but I am a liaison between the Library and Accounting, to follow up on problem bills.
In my experience, getting things done around an office is a zillion times better when you can establish a rapport with people. You definitely want to be friendly, or at the least, extremely polite, with Accounting, the Mail Room, the Copy Department, Word Processing, the receptionists, the secretaries, the paralegals, and yes, the librarians. Of course, the attorneys too, but you have to let them take the lead on how friendly they want to be with you. So far, people at all levels have been astonishingly nice - I continue to be floored by this. I mean, I don't expect everyone here to have a great personality and to be immensely friendly and helpful, but that's really been the norm around here rather than the exception.
Now this is not to say that you should be fake-friendly and kiss ass, because people can totally tell when you're being nice in order to get something from them. But if you can establish a good relationship with people that you have to work with, problem-solving becomes so much easier for everyone involved. There doesn't have to be tears or despair or bashing one's head on the desk, muttering obscenities.
I am very thankful to be on good terms with the lady in Accounting.
"We Were Almost All Wrong"*
From 1/28, "Ex-Inspector Calls for Inquiry on Prewar Intelligence" (Kirk Semple, NYT):
The former chief American weapons inspector in Iraq refuted suggestions...that intelligence analysts were under political pressure to bolster President Bush's case for war, saying that faulty intelligence-gathering was to blame for the belief that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction.
The inspector, Dr. David A. Kay, also called for an independent inquiry into the errors of the intelligence community. "It's quite clear we need capabilities that we do not have with regard to intelligence," he said during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C.
"We were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here," Dr. Kay said.
* "We" meaning the US and the UK. "We" doesn't include the UN weapons inspectors - Hans Blix, anyone? - or Germany, France, Russia, China and all the other nations who thought the intelligence was too weak to justify going to war.
"We" are the evil leading the stupid, who wonder why the rest of the world could possibly hate us.