Archive for November, 2009

The photovoltaic paradox

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

You pay the big bucks to install a photovoltaic system on your South-facing roof–paying up front, not on a mysterious contract basis. So you’ve essentially prepaid most of your electric bills for the next 20 years or so (let’s say 80%, since most systems are sized to replace 60% to 80% of the power needs).

Now you can relax and ignore your electricity use, right? After all, you’re almost never going to use more than Tier 1 (assuming tiered pricing by usage), so whatever power you do buy will be cheap.

Why do I say “photovoltaic” rather than “solar”? Well, it’s a much neater word–but also, quite a few rooftop solar installations don’t generate electricity; they’re solar water-heating installations, frequently used for swimming pools. An entirely different technology, with the only real commonalities being the use of the sun as a power source and the use of dark roof-mounted panels.

The paradox

We had good electricity habits before our photovoltaic system went live–we both grew up turning off lights when we left rooms, now that we have air conditioning we set it at a moderate temperature, we were already using CFLs in some appropriate spots, etc. In fact, that made us a poor candidate for some photovoltaic companies–while the American household average use is apparently more than 900kWH/month (900 kilowatt-hours, that is), we ran between 360 and 480 the first few months we were here (and using AC for the first time).

But here’s the thing:

  • When PG&E installs the new meter, you see exactly how much energy you’re using (rounded to the nearest 10 watts, when read in conjunction with your inverter’s output reading), and total usage is in big bold numbers.
  • At least for a while, it’s a bit of a game: You know your system’s rated maximum output, the inverter shows current output whenever it’s operating, you want to see how close you’re coming at various times of day and weather conditions.
  • Even more of a game, actually: “Hmm. We’re generating 1,900 watts and the power meter says the utility is receiving 1,500 watts. What’s using 400 watts in the household?” You get very interested in what the house uses “at idle”–during the daytime with no lights on and no appliances or computers running.
  • Somehow, even though you know you’re actually generating better than 80% of the power you’re using, even in mid-November with shorter days and possibly lower efficiency, you want–or at least we want–to see what would lower overall usage even further, without deprivation or anything.

That’s the paradox: Making a change that should make electricity use almost irrelevant, even on an environmental basis, has made us more aware of electricity use. We’re paying attention more–and I’m pretty sure we’re not alone.

The contractor we used, Solar City, makes it even easier to obsess just a little: The systems include SolarGuard, at least for the first five years–a wifi-based monitoring system that reports the system’s current and overall generation every fifteen minutes. Solar City uses that to monitor for signs of trouble–but each customer also has a web page. With a daily graph–showing, half-hour by half-hour, how much you’ve generated (and the total for the day, the total to date, and previous daily, weekly, monthly charts). Oh, and also how many dollars worth of electricity you’ve generated and how many pounds of CO2 haven’t been emitted because you’re using less utility electricity (making some assumptions about the source of that electricity, to be sure).

It’s an interesting setup. They assume you have broadband, and provide a tiny little wifi router that plugs into an available Ethernet port on your system (in our case, on our own wifi router); it communicates with a transmitter in the inverter. (I don’t know who actually builds the wifi router, but it’s “designed and manufactured in the USA”–as were our thin-film panels.)

Favorable unintended consequences

We’re a little more conscious of how and where we use electricity than we were, and we were pretty good before. Is that good, bad or indifferent? I don’t really know. (We figured out that our “idle rate” is between 50 and 80 watts–after realizing that turning on the garage lights while checking the idle rate was skewing it, since those old-fashioned fluorescents themselves use about 80 watts.)

There is, as it turns out, another unintended consequence, one that’s specific to SolarGuard, and that one’s absolutely favorable.

I’d been noticing that on some, maybe most, mornings when I first turn on my notebook PC, it could take anywhere from three to ten minutes of futzing around before I could get a stable DSL connection–sometimes, I’d have to unplug the modem or reboot it.

My wife, who uses wifi for her notebook, had noticed that some afternoons or evenings, after I’d been off my computer (or at least off the internet) for a couple of hours, she’d have trouble getting a connection, and sometimes couldn’t get one at all without rebooting the modem or the router.

I was wondering whether AT&T DSL (or the modem) was simply “forgetful”–that, if not used every so often, it would just drop the connection.

Well… SolarGuard apparently sends info every 15 minutes, whether the inverter’s actually generating power or not.

Since SolarGuard went live, neither of us has had problems connecting. At all. (Cross fingers.)

Maybe being “reminded” once every fifteen minutes is just enough to keep DSL live. If so, it’s a nice little extra.

Hmm… Lemme see here… We just passed 10kWh generation for the day. Not bad for November.

Slapstick Festival

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Full disclosure: this two-DVD, 35-short set was a gift from Mill Creek Entertainment, one of several they sent me along with a replacement disc, for free, with no request or expectation. It’s not a set I would have ordered, since I’ve already seen six of the nine sets of shorts (as Disc 1 and side one of Disc 2 of 50 Movie Comedy Classics, but with the two Buster Keaton collections combined into one very long 8-short collection in this set). Actually, that’s not entirely true: there’s one more Our Gang short, and it’s possible that some Fatty Arbuckle shorts are different.

The new discs are recent vintage, which means they’re two-layer single-sided discs with full-color covers, rather than the old single-layer two-sided discs with titles in the hub. The DVD menus are also a little classier than the old style. Otherwise, pretty similar—and I’m only including reviews for the three new “festivals.” (See Cites & Insights 9:9, August 2009, for the rest.)

Disc 1

Charlie Chaplin Festival. Three shorts, all starring (and written by) Charles Chaplin in his tramp character, all also featuring Edna Purviance and the tall, menacing Eric Campbell; all silent b&w with unrelated music; two without intertitles, one with. Includes The Cure, 1917, Henry Bergman, John Rand, James T. Kelley, 0:31 [0:19]; Easy Street, 1917, 0:19; and The Rink, 1916, James T. Kelley, Henry Bergman 0:30 [0:20].

Charlie Chaplin was unquestionably a master of physical comedy during this period—although not without a streak of cruelty in The Rink, the earliest of the three. While all three play as aspects of his tramp persona, they’re markedly different.

In The Cure, Chaplin’s a drunkard taking the cure—but doing so with a huge trunk entirely filled with booze. Most of the comedy either involves revolving doors (played to the hilt) or the consequences when an attendant throws all of Chaplin’s booze out the window—and into the well that’s the heart of the cure, with ensuing general merriment. I gave this one $0.75—it was consistently funny and cleverly done.

Easy Street sees the tramp triumphant—down on his luck in a mission, then (on a whim) signing up to be a cop and defeating the street’s master bully. The mass fighting near the beginning doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but the rest of the picture is really very well plotted and carried out. The print’s not as good as it might be, but it’s still a solid short (and the only one that appears to be full-length. $0.60.

The Rink begins in a restaurant, where Chaplin’s a really poor waiter—but the heart of it is in a skating rink, where Chaplin displays superior comedy skating skills along with a mean streak. This is the only one with any title cards; it was also, to my mind, the least satisfying. $0.45

Taken together, this is just under an hour of first-rate physical comedy from a master of the genre, with generally acceptable prints, and I think the overall $1.80 is fair.

Keystone Cops Festival. Four shorts, 0:56 total; I gave it a total of $0.40.

Our Gang Festival. Four shorts, 1:12 total, including one I hadn’t seen before, Waldo’s Last Stand. I gave the other three a total of $0.50. Waldo’s Last Stand is mostly kids doing dance routines; I’d give it maybe $0.15, for a total of $0.65.

Three Stooges Festival. Four shorts, all starring some version of the Three Stooges (Larry Fine, Moe Howard, and either Shemp Howard or Curly Howard), all sound, b&w. (Disorder in the Court includes Curly; the others include Shemp.) Includes The Brideless Groom, 1947, Edward Bernds. (dir.), Dee Green, Christine McIntyre, 0:17; Disorder in the Court, 1936, Jack White (dir.), 0:16; Malice in the Palace, 1949, Jules White (dir.), Vernon Dent, George Lewis, 0:16; and Sing a Song of Six Pants, 1947, Jules White (dir.), Virginia Hunter, Tiny Brauer, Vernon Dent, 0:17, for a total of 1:05.

Some comedians and comedy film groups, such as the East Side Kids, are clearly acquired tastes. If you’d asked me earlier, I might have said I liked the Three Stooges for dumb humor, although I hadn’t seen them in years. In this case, absence makes the heart go wander: I now find that it’s a taste I’ve disacquired. The group seems lame, riding one or two pieces of schtick for all they’re worth. On the other hand, the prints are all quite good—but if you’re a Stooges person, you probably already have these. (Or maybe not: Apparently they’re the only Stooges shorts to fall into the public domain, so are left out of pricier compilations.)

The Brideless Groom has one of the Stooges as a music teacher with a horrendously bad vocal pupil; another one finds that he’s eligible for a huge inheritance—but only if he’s married within the next six hours. Big dumb comedy ensues. Very generously, $0.30.

Disorder in the Court is, if possible, a little dumber, although it does include a nice little dance routine. It’s set in a courtroom, with the Stooges key witnesses to try to save an innocent woman from a murder rap. $0.25.

Malice in the Palace involves a huge diamond, adventurers and schtick; that may be insufficient, but other than a restaurant sketch suggesting that the chef was serving up cats and dogs, it’s hard to remember even 12 hours later. $0.20.

Sing a Song of Six Pants has the Stooges as failing tailors, which allows for lots of their kind of comedy based on beating the crap out of one another. $0.25.

You know what? All those ratings are generous, based on the possibility that you’ll find this stuff funnier than I do. It seems to add up to $1.00, but I’d rank it lower than that.

W. C. Fields Festival. Three shorts, all starring W. C. Fields, all sound, b&w. Includes The Dentist, 1932, Leslie Pearce (dir.), Marjorie Kane, Arnold Gray, Dorothy Granger, Elise Cavanna, 0:21; The Fatal Glass of Beer, 1933, Clyde Bruckman (dir.), Rosemary Theby, George Chandler, Richard Cramer, 0:21 [0:19]; and The Golf Specialist, 1930, Monte Brice (dir.), Shirley Grey, John Dunsmuir, Al Wood, 0:20.

OK, so I do like W.C. Fields—and although I’ve seen these three before (but can’t remember when), I enjoyed seeing them again. All good prints, good enough so the tacky rear projection in Fatal Glass of Beer is as obvious as Fields wanted it to be.

The Dentist is Fields at his most irascible (and mildly foolish), with some remarkable physical comedy during the dental scenes (and some funny golf stuff). $0.50.

The Fatal Glass of Beer is what it is—a classic satire on cheaply-made studio melodramas. Fields is a Yukon gold prospector going back to his frozen homestead (but with a big gold nougat, at least the way he pronounces it). We get his musical charms along the way (the titular song) and the no-good son who returns to the flock. That, and a running gag that, for some reason, never gets old. ‘Taint a fit night out for man nor beast, but it’s a funny, funny short. $0.75.

The Golf Specialist has Fields as a con man, a hotel dick’s wife who is always hot to trot, the world’s most annoying caddy…well, it’s another charmer, if you like Fields. $0.50.

That comes out to $1.75. Fields was unique, perhaps the slowest-paced physical comedian in the business, and I found this hour quite satisfying.

Disc 2

All previously reviewed, with the Buster Keaton Festival (nearly three hours!) split into two parts:

All-Star Extravanza. Three shorts, 0:55 total, with a variety of casts. While I gave it a total of $0.75, one of the shorts—La Cucaracha—is the first live-action three-strip Technicolor film and interesting on that account.

Buster Keaton Festival. Eight shorts, 2:49 total. As presented on the earlier set (split into Festival and Classics), I gave this collection a total of $3.10—which is too high for one “picture,” but an indication that there’s some great stuff here from a master of silent comedy. Let’s call it $2.

Fatty Arbuckle Festival. Three shorts, 0:44 total—and one of three barely has Arbuckle in it at all. $0.50. (Note: This might be different shorts—I didn’t bother to look.)

Stan Laurel Festival. Three shorts, 0:65 total. $0.75.

So what do we have? Disc 1 seems to add up to $5.60, Disc 2 to $4 (or more). Is there really $9.60 worth of slapstick here? Well, there are 35 shorts, including a handful of true classics; you can probably stream all or most of these from the Internet Archive or elsewhere, but you can get it for $4.36 via Amazon (indirectly)—although, since it’s apparently been discontinued, that may not be true for too long.

Normally, I post each disc’s worth of old movies as a blog post–and then publish reviews for half a collection (or a tenth of a collection, for the 60-disc Mystery Collection, or the entire collection for sets of six discs or less) in Cites & Insights as an Offtopic Perspective.

I don’t plan to do that this time–there’s just not enough new to bother with.

I also don’t plan to keep the discs–and, since it turns out that the entire set of 20 Hitchcock flicks is included in another (somewhat misnamed) 50-movie collection that Mill Creek sent me for free, there’s very little reason to keep that set.

So here’s the deal: I’ll be at Midwinter 2010 (big shock there!), staying in the Westin Boston Waterfront, there from Friday morning (I’m taking a red-eye) through Monday evening. If you’re going to be at either the LITA Happy Hour (assuming there is one and it’s in a convenient location) or at the OCLC Bloggers Salon (assuming there is one), you could be the proud owner of one of these small sets of public domain stuff.

I’ll ask appropriate prices: “thanks” for the Slapstick Festival, a glass of wine for the Hitchcock collection.

If you’re going to be at ALA Midwinter and one of these shindigs, and if you want one of these sets, let me kn0w–first come, first served–in a comment or via email.

Now, on to Disc 5 of the Mystery Collection, which is four more Sherlock Holmes movies–three with Basil Rathbone, one with Reginald Owen, and one full feature length. I wish I could say I’m excited about seeing four more Holmes flicks…ah, but that’s another post, one that probably won’t get posted.

And sometimes it isn’t…

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I posted “Sometimes it’s just a waste” about preparing a “trimmed” set of liblogs, running some metrics, and finding the results so uninteresting that I discarded the partial chapter.

I got a couple of comments on the post, one of which eventually resulted in rethinking the effort.

Most of the new study, But Still They Blog, avoids averages as being meaningless in a universe as heterogeneous as liblogs. But there may be cases where averages are still at least mildly interesting–particularly if the universe is made a little more homogeneous.

Here’s what I did:

  • First, prepared a table of averages and supporting figures for all of the blogs in the study, for the cases where averages might have some use. That table fits on a single book page with room to spare.
  • Second, removed all blogs that don’t have length metrics for all three years (either because there were no posts or because I couldn’t measure length).
  • Third, removed eight blogs that seem atypical–most of them some form of current awareness service, one a pure link-and-headline blog committed to one very brief post per day. That’s eight of the 325 blogs that have length metrics for all three years–not many, but they make a difference.
  • Then prepared a table with the same averages and totals (a shorter table, since the first one had to account for blogs with no length metrics).
  • Noted the differences–to wit, a more distinct dropoff in posts from 2008 to 2009, and a more distinct, if still small, increase in average post length–and provided two more figures: The number of blogs each year with “essay length” posts, using two definitions of “essay length.” Using either definition, the number of essay-length blogs has grown substantially over the years.

It’s not a big deal–it adds four pages to what will still be the shortest chapter in the book–but it’s mildly interesting. And, given the nature of the spreadsheet, it probably took longer to describe trimming the universe than to actually do it…

Too darn long: An apology of sorts

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

So I was preparing Cites & Insights Volume 9 for the annual trade-paperback version…

And I realized something, or, rather, was reminded of something I already knew:


It’s too long. Sorry about that.

What do I mean by “too long”? My original aim for C&I was to do 12 12-page to 16-page issues a year (a total of 144 to 192 pages), back when this all started in 2001. Since then, I’ve adjusted expectations, and since 2004  I think in terms of “around 300 pages per year,” roughly 12 24-page issues (with either an extra issue or one or two running to 26 pages).

Not that I get there, to be sure. Volume 8 had only 12 issues (the only time that’s happened) but they totaled 330 pages–which was at least lower than volumes 6 and 7 (362 and 350 pages each).

This year? Sigh… 418 pages, not including the index. That’s 56 pages longer than Volume 6, the longest volume prior to this, and spread across 13 instead of 14 issues.

What happened?

I think what happened was overcompensation–that, and the fact that I included the “non-profile portion” of three different books as part of C&I this year, which accounts for 70 of those 418 pages. Without those inclusions, the volume is a mere 348 pages, more or less on target (mostly less, since the target’s still around 300 pages).

Overcompensation? Yep. Going into this year, I knew we were going to seriously hunt for a new house and plan to sell the old one–and that meant preparing to have the interior painted, doing some other little fixups, and of course loads of disruption for prepacking, painting, looking at houses, drawing up offers, packing, moving, unpacking, seeing what needed to be done at the new house…

So, basically, every month I was a little nervous about not having anything ready when time came to publish the next issue–and took one way out: I prepared substantial essays when I had time to do so, to make sure there’d be something on hand.

The result was that I always did have something on hand–and that I put together some fairly large essays that might not have happened under other circumstances.

I’m not apologizing for the quality of Volume 9. I think it’s just fine–a bit heavy on mega-essays, but maybe that’s OK. The length? Well, it is what it is; I’d prefer a shorter volume, but that’s life.


I don’t promise to do better next year. Heck, I don’t even promise that there will be a next year–that is, that I’ll do a full Volume 10 of at least 12 issues. It seems likely, but without sponsorship or “secondary revenue sources,” it’s not certain. And assuming it does move forward, I’ll still aim for roughly 24-page issues, but I’ll still publish issues that are the length they need to be.

As to that paperback volume…

It’s done. I’ve ordered the proof copy. Assuming nothing stupidly wrong–not the usual typos, because I don’t fix typos once an issue’s published–I’ll turn it on for public access and announce it. As usual, it will be $50 for either the book or a downloadable PDF, the latter particularly representing support for C&I (since you can, to be sure, download all 13 issues and the index for $0).

Now to not do any advance writing for C&I Volume 10…at least until I’ve gotten further along with But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009.

An afterthought: In case you’re wondering, Volume 9 contains just over 331,000 words (plus a bunch of tables and figures in one issue). The previous record was roughly 289,000 words in Volume 7; although Volume 6 had more pages, it had fewer words–I tweaked the format in 2007 to get more words per page.

How do you define “big”?

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Full disclosure: There are several library-related topics that I simply don’t write about, for one reason or another–inherent conflicts of interest, various agreements, total ignorance…

One of those is integrated library systems, so I have no direct comments to make about a set of conversations currently taking place within various blogs, FriendFeed and probably other venues.

I do have one side comment, though.

One of the parties in these conversations says there are three “big open source applications”–Firefox, Apache and Linux. (The discussion that follows leads me to believe that there’s an implication that these are the big open source applications.) That statement makes me wonder how “big” is defined–setting aside the question of whether Apache or Linux are “applications.”

I’m posting this on my blog, which uses WordPress software, which is open source software. WordPress software runs millions of blogs. Is that big?

My part-time job is as Editorial Director of the Library Leadership Network, which is in the midst of a platform change.

  • The old platform is MediaWiki, which is open source software. MediaWiki is also the platform for an obscure little wiki some of you may have heard of: Wikipedia.
  • The new platform is Drupal, which is open source software. My sense is that Drupal is used for one heck of a lot of content management systems (albeit probably few with the size or traffic of Wikipedia, which of course runs on scalable proprietary open source software).

I’m as much an open source independent as I am an open access independent. I’m quite happy with Vista (and will move to Windows 7 soon) and, although I’ve tried OpenOffice, I much prefer Word2007 and Office2007 in general. But I believe a few million people use OpenOffice, which is open source software.

So I guess it depends on your definition of “big.”

(I’m guessing there are some other open source programs used by millions of people, which for me is a pretty good definition of “big”; I only included ones I’m personally familiar with.)

Cites & Insights volume 9 indexes available

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

The indexes and title sheet for Cites & Insights volume 9 (2009) is now available.

The 16-page PDF consists of a title sheet, a three-page index of articles and blog posts quoted, and an 11-page general index.

This completes Volume 9.

A paperback version of Cites & Insights 9: 2009 will be available some time in the next few weeks. (I need to choose a photograph, prepare a cover and prepare the book for print-on-demand publication, and a few other things have higher priority.) It will cost $50 and be available exclusively through Lulu, as with each of the previous three paperback volumes.

Mystery Collection Disc 4

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

The Sign of Four, 1932, b&w. Graham Cutts (dir.), Arthur Wontner, Isla Bevan, Ian Hunter, Graham Soutten, Miles Malleson, Herbert Lomas, Roy Emerton. 1:15 [1:13].

I came to this one positively predisposed. I enjoyed a couple of early Sherlock Holmes flicks in another set, I like the published stories. Unfortunately, the movie let me down—partly because of print sound problems (heavy noise overlay through much of the picture) that made it difficult to enjoy. I’m not sure that was all of it; it felt like very little “legitimate Holmes” and lots of cliché Holmes, with some odd action thrown in. (Two people rolling around on the floor with thumping noises may be how a fight actually happens, but it’s lousy cinema.)

Actually, the movie’s roughly half over before Holmes enters at all. Two top men at a prison make a deal with a one-legged lifer to find a treasure, let him and another escape and split the treasure four ways—and, naturally, one of the two kills the other and completely ignores the deal. Many years later, the prisoners escape and the action starts—part of it involving the peculiar choice to make the less-evil prisoner (who was a couple of months away from release anyway) a Tattooed Man, thus making him instantly identifiable. There’s a little remorse added, by the old man who got all the treasure, has used enough of it to establish a comfortable lifestyle for his family, and now wants to give part of it to the daughter of the partner he betrayed—who, when she gets part of it and senses she’s in danger, goes to Holmes.

That’s enough of the plot…except that, in this case, it appears that Dr. Watson and the daughter become engaged at the end of the flick. We get a little of the brilliant (or absurd) Holmes “deductions” and a lot of the tired sayings. We get over-the-top disguises. We get Scotland Yard treating Holmes as irrelevant but simultaneously giving him all the help he requests. I dunno, maybe I’m being too harsh, but I can’t give this more than $0.75.

The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes, 1935, b&w. Leslie S. Hiscott (dir.), Arthur Wontner, Lyn Harding, Ian Fleming, Leslie Perrins, Jane Carr, Charles Mortimer, Michael Shepley, Ben Weldon. 1:24 [1:19].

Same Holmes, different Watson (same first name!), and to my mind a considerably better movie—partly because, while there’s still sound distortion, it’s now a low warbling that doesn’t entirely disrupt the movie. We don’t get Holmes in disguise; we do get the death (apparently) of Moriarty.

Holmes is retiring and moving to the country…at which point Inspector Lestrade calls him in to help with the murder of a local, who was apparently a member of the Scowlers, an infamous American society of coal miners somehow affiliated with the Freemasons (or Freemen?). We get a long, long backstory, quite well done—and then we return to a present with coded messages, secret passages, mistaken identities (or, rather, deliberate identity fraud), a murder that isn’t and more. All in all, a ripping adventure—but with the sound quality, the best I can do is $1.25.

Murder at the Baskervilles (aka Silver Blaze), 1937, b&w. Thomas Bentley (dir.), Arthur Wontner, Ian Fleming, Lyn Harding, John Turnbull, Lawrence Grossmith. 1:11 [1:05].

The incident of the dog in the night—one of the classic Holmesian bits (used here, if perhaps not uniquely). Holmes and Watson take vacation at Baskerville Manor and immediately get dragged into an investigation by Inspector Lestrade. A prize horse has been kidnapped, the stable boy/guard poisoned—and when Holmes and Watson go out to the moors to investigate, they find the horse’s trainer, dead.

Lots of detecting, some interesting twists, Professor Moriarty in rare (and scenery-chewing) form, Holmes alternating between treating Lestrade as an idiot and as a respected colleague. Wontner comes off well as Holmes, as do Ian Fleming as Watson and Lyn Harding as Moriarty. (This appears to be the tale in which Lestrade—John Turnbull—first accepts that Moriarty is a villain. On the other hand, it appears that Moriarty and the Baskervilles are both elements that weren’t in the original story.) Quite well done, and most of the time the sound is OK. $1.50.

The Woman in Green, 1945, b&w. Roy William Neill (dir.), Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Hillary Brooke, Henry Daniell. 1:08.

Different Sherlock (the much better known Basil Rathbone, who I find no better or worse than Wontner), different Watson (Nigel Bruce, who comes off as somewhat of a useless fathead), different Moriarty (well, he’s already died once…), and no Lestrade—oh, and clearly done on a considerably larger budget than the shoestring Wontner flicks.

Plot? Young women are being murdered in London, with no common theme of location, class, employment or anything else—except that in every case the right forefinger is cleanly removed. Turns out to have a lot to do with blackmail and even more to do with hypnotism—and did I mention that Professor Moriarty is involved?

Really quite good, and both the print and sound quality were fine. In some ways, I like Wontner’s Holmes better—and in almost every way I like Fleming’s Watson better. That said, this is a good film; I’ll give it $1.50.

Cites & Insights 9:13 (December 2009) now available

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Cites & Insights 9:13 (December 2009) is now available.

The 32-page issue (PDF as usual, but HTML separates are available–see the links below, and also the caveat about the second item) includes:

Bibs & Blather

It’s the end of a volume (except for the index, later in November) and the end of an era–YBP’s five-year sponsorship. I’m looking for a new sponsor. Also, But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009 should be out some time this year…

Making it Work: Purpose, Values and All That Jazz

Commentaries on library values and purpose, including some upbeat commentaries. What’s not here: any commentaries on Taiga, Darien or 101. Caveat: The HTML version is provided for online reading–but if you print it out, it will almost certainly be longer than the PDF of the entire issue. Save paper: If you want this printed, do the whole issue.

Offtopic Perspective: 50 Movie Comedy Classics, Part 2

From “comedy in the classical sense” (that is, most characters survive throughout the film) to little-known but quite funny British films and two versions of a Ben Hecht play, with different genders playing the same lead.

Reminder: This isn’t quite the end of Volume 9. Some time later, probably in November, I’ll publish the index and title page–but for those who want a bound set of Volume 9, there’s a better route: Some time after that, I’ll publish the whole volume (by far the longest to date, and that was not intentional) on Lulu, for the same $50 as volumes 6, 7 and 8.

Halloween pizza: Pretty scary

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Another post of no known significance…

Since we moved here six months ago, we’ve been getting pizza for dinner on some Saturdays–from a takeout/delivery place just three blocks from here. It’s much better than most chain pizza, although technically it is a chain. Turns out the pizza place hasn’t been there that much longer than we have…

When we do this, I usually call in the order around 5:30 p.m., they usually say “20 minutes or so,” I go over around 5:40, and it’s usually ready between 5:45 and 5:50. There’s usually a reasonable flow of traffic, with deliveries going out every few minutes, people coming in to pick up pizzas every couple of minutes.

So yesterday was Saturday, and I ordered a pizza around 5:30, and they said “20 minutes or so.” (This one was free: they have a really good frequent diner program, one free after six orders.)

But yesterday was also Halloween. The owner had no idea…

I can only conjecture that everybody eats pizza on Halloween–or at least that it’s a natural for Saturday Halloween parties. They were well-staffed, but the desk people didn’t quite catch on to what was happening quite soon enough. And you can only make pizzas so fast in a two-oven facility…

Let’s just say that I got my pizza at 6:20 p.m. By 5:50, they were telling people “45 minutes to an hour, longer for delivery.” The manager did his best, including giving refunds to people who just gave up…although in one case, it took just long enough to give the refund that the person got his pizzas instead. The atmosphere in the increasingly-crowded area around the tiny shop went from bemusement to some anger (on some folks’ part, not mine) to a sort of camaraderie.

The pizza was fine, if a whole lot delayed, and of course I got it fresh out of the oven…

(Yes, we had trick-or-treaters, although not many–maybe 25 total.)