Archive for September, 2005

Countries and States

Friday, September 30th, 2005

I’ve seen the maps for some time, but never got around to generating them. But here goes.

Herewith, the countries I’ve set foot in…

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

The detail’s a little odd, but what this says is we’re strong in the Caribbean (some fascinating places that aren’t on the country list), fairly strong in the Mediterranean and Western Europe and South Pacific, and weak elsewhere.

Then there’s the states map:

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

I’ve done better there, with 34 of 51 states (inc. DC) visited.

My guess is that, if I did this again in 10 years, there would be another 2 to 6 nations (maybe more) and 2 to 6 states. Somehow, at the current rate, the possibility of speaking at least once in every state (noting that 4 or 5 of those in the map aren’t ones I’ve spoken in) is fading from improbable to highly improbable.

As to the big country just north of the U.S.: British Columbia (several times) and Ontario, but we’ll add several other provinces one of these years…

The great oatmeal quest

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

So we went up to Reno to celebrate my 60th birthday, as alluded to in another post. Stayed at the Eldorado, with a 24-hour restaurant (Tivoli Gardens) that used to have an absurdly long and varied menu and still has a fairly long and varied menu.

First morning after getting there, my wife was under the weather, and didn’t finally make it down for “breakfast” until something like 1:30 p.m. All she really wanted to eat was oatmeal.

Most of Tivoli Gardens’ menu is either available 24 hours a day or available from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. Oatmeal, as she guessed it might be, is an exception: The menu says it’s available from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. I don’t know: Maybe there’s something mystical about making oatmeal.

She asked. They said “You’re about two hours late.” The best they could do was Cream of Wheat, which is not really in the same ballpark. She coped.

Next morning, we were still a bit late to breakfast: We got there around 9:30 or 10. She ordered oatmeal. They were out: “ran out a little while ago.” She ordered something else.

Final morning in Reno, we made it in pretty early: Around 8:15-8:30. She ordered oatmeal.

They were out. Less than two hours after they started serving oatmeal.

Either there’s something special about oatmeal and Reno, or all they fix is one little pot at 7 a.m., or maybe they don’t really serve oatmeal at all.

Oh, the next morning we were in Sonora, at the Best Western Sonora Oaks. Had breakfast at the Pine Tree, a restaurant on the motel’s grounds. She ordered oatmeal. They brought her oatmeal. Good oatmeal, too, she says.

[What? You’re waiting for the big moral? Deeper significance? Did you notice the name of this here blog?]


Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

Yes, it’s metablogging, but:

Go up one (to, over a bit (from walt to webjunction), and down–or, in the real world of URLs, go read this post.

And think about it. Sez one who’s deeply in both camps.


Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

LISNews has a little post pointing to a CNet “power of 10” list (one of many being generated for CNet’s 10th anniversary), this one “Top 10 worst products.”

Second on the list is “CueCat” (actually :CueCat, but the article gets it wrong both times), of which the writer, Tom Merritt, actually says “I liked this idea when I first saw it.” Setting aside issues of how much attention I should pay to a list generated by someone who liked the idea of sitting tethered to a computer while reading so you could scan bar codes from magazines to get More Advertising…well, here’s the second sentence:

“I also should note that it’s still used for some library applications and comes in handy.”

Anybody know of any libraries using :CueCat?

A little web searching shows some old freeware/cheapware “personal library” applications that did use hacked versions of :CueCat as freebie barcode scanners, but if any library relies on this long-defunct device, I’ve never heard of them.

But maybe some of you have.

(#3 is DigiScent iSmell, one of several “scent peripherals” that have come and gone, mostly gone. #6 is Windows ME; hard to argue with that. And #10, one variant on something I’ve seen at least one library blogger drool over, at least in theory: VKP’s “virtual keyboard,” the concept of projecting a keyboard as a light pattern onto any flat surface. Did anybody ever get one of these devices to work? CNet didn’t, apparently.)

Dear Reno: An open letter

Sunday, September 25th, 2005

One of what may be a few posts based on our recent short vacation (centered on my 60th birthday), as I recover from work-related events around the same time. I think this one works best as an open letter to the powers that be in Reno, Nevada–“the powers that be” mostly being the owners/operators of the downtown hotel/casinos in this case, not that the city or state couldn’t be involved…

Dear Reno,

We like the Biggest Little City, or at least we used to. We used to drive up two or three times a year, staying in one of the downtown hotels, mixing trips around northwest Nevada with time on the poker slot machines.

The last time was two years ago–and we hadn’t been back because, well, we’re Northern Californians, and we’re getting used to breathing. My wife has asthma, so for her it’s a direct health issue. For me, it’s a matter of long-term health and simply finding constant second-hand smoke unpleasant. Oh, sure, most casinos had “non-smoking sections,” usually a dozen slot machines with a little “non-smoking” sign over them, all of two feet away from the rest of the “smoking” casino, with no doors, filtration, or other help.

We came back in September 2005. We both missed the town. We hoped that some casinos would decide to cater to the vast majority of Californians and have some real non-smoking sections. For example, Harrah’s could easily make one side of its split facility nonsmoking. So could Golden Phoenix. Eldorado has a reasonable-size slot area that has only one door connecting it with the rest of the hotel and casino: Put in positive-pressure ventilation, put up a “nonsmoking” sign, and you’re good. Those are just a couple of examples.

But here’s what we found. Just walking into the Eldorado, to go up the escalators to checkin, my wife started having trouble breathing–the smoke was worse than on our previous visit. We asked about nonsmoking areas. Nope (except, probably, the live poker room: seems like serious poker players really don’t like smoke). Harrah’s? Nope. Golden Phoenix? Not even the pathetic little area it used to have in a former incarnation. Silver Legacy? Well, the air was cleaner than at some others–but only until someone sits two machines away and starts blowing that smoke. They have all the rights; as nonsmokers, our only right was to leave.

That pretty much spoiled the vacation. It didn’t help that the “deluxe” Eldorado room in 2005 didn’t measure up to our memory of a “standard” Eldorado room a few years ago, but that’s just one hotel. (We stayed at a Best Western motel in Sonora after leaving Reno; that room was significantly nicer than the Eldorado room.) It didn’t help that Harrah’s Steak House has apparently completely dropped its dress code (and somehow we remember this steak house as having a view, but it’s in the basement–at least now it is), although the food was still good. It didn’t help that downtown’s become more seedy than we remember. But mostly it didn’t help that my wife could barely breathe in some casinos and felt slightly ill through the whole three days.

I should note one small exception (and we didn’t make it to the Reno Hilton, which might have a true nonsmoking gaming area). Atlantis has a skyway that connects to a parking lot at one end and the hotel/casino at the other. That skyway has maybe three or four dozen slot machines (including a few poker slots) and, lo and behold, is truly non-smoking.

Atlantis can do it. Why can’t the rest of you?

Oh yes, about Sonora: We stopped by one of those Indian casinos that’s causing you so much trouble: Black Oak, in Tuolumne. The odds for poker slots weren’t great (5 for a flush, 8 for a full house)–as good as at Eldorado, but not the full 98%-payback odds at Silver Legacy and some other spots. But there was this big area with loads of glass and a door with a “nonsmoking” sign. 160+ slot machines. A bar. Positive-pressure ventilation. Clean air. What a concept!

We’ve heard there are other Indian casinos with true nonsmoking gaming areas.

We like Reno. Really we do. We’ll never be high rollers, but we come prepared to pay for a good hotel room and good meals, with a modest budget to enjoy poker slots.

Guess where we’re likely to take that budget?

Maybe Reno can continue to cater to the dying breed of smokers, but it seems like an odd long-term strategy.

Walt Crawford

Library Juice: gone or changed

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

Rory Litwin of Library Juice is calling it quits after nearly eight years.

Well, actually, that’s not quite true. He’s shutting down Library Juice as an e-journal. He’ll return with a Library Juice blog.

As I noted in a comment at Library Stuff (where I saw the story), this is one more in a surprising wave of temporary and permanent shutdowns over the last month or two. I’m not sure whether there’s something more significant happening here (I’m inclined to make a comment about deep cynicism at certain levels of leadership infecting the rest of us, but I try to avoid politics). Maybe I’ll write a Blather about it; maybe not.

Meanwhile–Rory’s always been considerably to my left, and also a good writer. I’ve appreciated Library Juice even when I’ve disagreed with what’s there. I’ll certainly add the new blog to Bloglines…

Dropping the dial-up and one cheer for MSN

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005

I made the move yesterday: Told AT&T Worldnet to discontinue my dialup internet connection. That actually takes effect on October 14, because it’s already paid through then.

I haven’t used the account since we moved to SBC Yahoo! DSL (which includes some number of dial-up hours if needed), but I left it open for a while because of my web pages. Not that the personal web site gets used much, but still…

Meanwhile, it’s a redundant expense we don’t need.

“One cheer for MSN”? OK, I do vanity searches every couple of months–three of them, for “Walt Crawford,” “Walt at Random,” and “Cites & Insights” (all as phrases). It’s been interesting to track the frequently-ludicrous result sizes on various major search engines–but lately there’s also been another point in the first vanity search: will anyone ever find, my new website?

Here’s where things stand as of today:

  • AllTheWeb and Yahoo both have it as #6; not bad. (I don’t know about 84,500 results for “Cites & Insights” and 35,900 for “Walt at Random”–but that’s a different question. Those are Yahoo numbers; ATW numbers are a little lower.)
  • Google has it as #8, as does Alexa (using some subset of Google’s results). Again, the overall results are just bizarre, particularly since all three phrases yield roughly three times as many supposed results as they did a month ago. (70,200 for “Cites & Insights” and 14,500 for “Walt at Random”?) (The Alexa numbers are low enough to be plausible.)
  • Teoma, Gigablast, and Ask Jeeves just won’t get you there, at least not within the first 20.
  • And at MSN, the very first result for “Walt Crawford” is the new website! Somehow, their ranking algorithm appears to weight toward currency. (The numbers are a little more plausible: 10,099 for “Cites & Insights” and 2,120 for “Walt at Random.”

That’s it. Just a note that is going away soon (allthe content that was there is now at and a note that MSN’s web search is the best at getting people to the real site. Which is not an endorsement of MSN; I vary between Yahoo!, MSN, and Google as my first web search engine, depending on moonphase and other scientific criteria.

Biblioblogosphere survey

Monday, September 19th, 2005

I’m late to the party on this one, but Meredith’s survey results have been posted–that link takes you to the last of several posts, which links to the others.

It would appear that 165 bloggers took the survey, a good showing and a pretty fair chunk of the biblioblogosphere.

Just a couple of comments.

Here’s the response to one question and Meredith’s comment (in italics):

2. What is your age?

24 to 30…. 54 (32.7%)
31 to 40…. 62 (37.6%)
41 to 50…. 27 (16.4%)
51 to 60…. 14 (8.5%)
Over 60…. 5 (3%)
Under 24…. 3 (1.8%)

Not a huge surprise that the majority of library bloggers are under 40, but I was thrilled to see that so many were over 40! 25.9% is certainly more than I’d expected and is a nice stereotype-busting figure.

Looking only at 51 and above, I’m not at all surprised: As I’ve said elsewhere, I was quite confident that at least five or six of the sixty blogs described in my study are done by people over 50, and the number could be higher.

I wonder where the “bloggers are youngsters” stereotype comes from. From the relatively young people going around the country advocating blogging? From those of us who are older and (unlike me) don’t mention it?

13% of those responding don’t have an ML[I]S or apparently plan to get one. Good to know I’m not the only blogging “library person” who isn’t a professional librarian…

Roughly 45% of respondents work in academic libraries. Meredith had this to say about that: Who says there are no voices of academic librarianship?

Well…there’s a difference between being an academic librarian and blogging, and being a voice of academic librarianship. I suspect that academic librarians are sensitive to this distinction, and that relatively few of them view themselves as voices in that manner. (But what do I know? I’m not one of them…I’m sure as heck not a “voice of RLG”!)

My overall comment on the study and Meredith’s interpretation: Nicely done.

And, of course, my overall suggestion: Go read the results.

Almost back

Saturday, September 17th, 2005

The even-lower-than-usual frequency of postings can be explained simply enough:

We went on a little vacation to celebrate my 60th birthday. (We don’t buy each other gifts; for birthdays, the one whose birthday it is gets to choose where to go out for dinner. For a decade mark, we made an exception–or, rather, I chose Harrah’s Steak House in Reno, instead of a Mountain View/Los Altos/Palo Alto restaurant.)

I may log about some aspects later, including an open letter to Reno as to why we’re unlikely to return unless some things change…(cough cough hack hack)

Meanwhile, I’d like to say I’m back and blogging, but that’s only half true. I’m back, and expect to be blogging with a little more frequency (my usual “target” is 2 posts per week), but it may take a while. Some stuff began just before the vacation, and I need to work out how it’s going to play, before I decide what can and can’t be written about…

50-Movie All Stars Collection, Disc 3

Friday, September 9th, 2005

It’s that time again!

Anatomy of an Illness, 1984, color, Richard T. Heffron (dir.), Edward Asner, Eli Wallach, Millie Perkins, David Ogden Stiers. 1:36. [1:38 jacket]

Ed Asner as Norman Cousins, editor of Saturday Review: How could you go wrong? You can’t: This is an excellent fact-based movie (based on Cousins’ autobiography of the same name) with a first-rate cast, about using laughter, will, and (maybe) vitamin C to overcome a crippling degenerative spinal disease. First rate, and generally a very good transfer. $2.

Black Brigade, 1970, color, George McCowan (dir.), Stephen Boyd, Robert Hooks, Roosevelt Grier, Moses Gunn, Richard Pryor, Billy Dee Williams, Susan Oliver. Also called Carter’s Army. 1:10. [1:30 jacket]

Stephen Boyd as a redneck captain dropped behind Nazi lines to take the only available group of soldiers on a mission to keep a German dam from being destroyed (although the jacket and only IMDB review both say it’s to destroy the dam!). The only group is an all-black support brigade, basically a group that digs latrines and fills them in; most of them have never shot at anything but tin cans. Robert Hooks plays the lieutenant in charge of the brigade—and as you can see, pretty much everyone in the brigade is or would be a name actor (I’ve left some out). Well played and worth watching. The transfer isn’t as good as it should be, reducing this to $1.50.

A Christmas Without Snow, 1980, color, John Korty (dir.), Michael Learned, John Houseman, Ramon Bieri, James Cromwell, Valerie Curtin. 1:35. [1:40 jacket]

OK, I’m a California native, so the title seems a little odd—and it’s set in San Francisco, where a recent divorcee from Kansas has moved (leaving her son behind temporarily) to try to get a new start as a teacher. It’s certainly dated in one respect: There are no jobs anywhere in the Bay Area for a credentialed teacher (!) so she winds up doing temp office work. Most of the story, however, is about the choir she joins, John Houseman as the crusty old retired musician who takes over as director, and the trials of going from a bunch of truly rank amateurs to a group capable of handling the Messiah with some flair. There’s even organ rebuilding along the way. Too much plot, and a lot of subplots left hanging, but all in all a good movie (and generally very good transfer). $1.50.

Panic in Echo Park, 1977, color, John Llewellyn Moxey (dir.), Dorian Harewood, Catlin Adams, Ramon Bieri. 1:12 [1:13]. [1:30 jacket]

If you’re wondering why I mentioned Ramon Bieri in the previous film—here he is again, in an entirely different role, also doing a solid job in some key scenes. But he’s not the star; Dorian Harewood is as a black doctor in LA coping with an epidemic centered on one housing project in Echo Park. The jacket blurb calls it a “classic story of the underdog fighting a closed-minded bureaucracy,” and that’s not a bad description. Generally well acted (Harewood is excellent—but the closing theme, which he sings, has lyrics that are banal even by TV-movie standards). Generally very good transfer. The most “TV movie-ish” of this group. $1.

This group and maybe half of the movies on the first two discs raise questions in my mind as to why TV movies are TV movies–that is, these are by no means a bunch of B- flicks with hasbeen casts or “disease of the week” quickies. I may turn some of those speculations into a post. Or I might not…

By the way, don’t expect much posting or comment moderation for the next week.