The Harry Potter series was a nearly-full-time hobby for me at one point. It’s been a way to meet new people and make friends, and it was my gateway into the fantasy genre, so it can’t be much of a surprise that I was among those who caught the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I thought it was the best of the movies so far, but…
Why won’t Michael Gambon read the books? I mean, as someone who has loved and reread the books and spent enormous amounts of time with the story and the characters in my imagination, it’s no surprise that the movies won’t come out exactly as I imagined them, but come on! The (obviously very good) actor who plays my favorite character doesn’t get the hilarious, light-hearted, crazy, loving, witty, amazing, brilliant personality of one of the most important characters in the entire series. Not even a little. For the last three movies, he’s simply been terrified and in a rather bad mood and not at all himself. (For the uninitiated, I’m talking about Dumbledore. Hi, Mom!)
Of course, watching the movie made me want to reread the series yet again (for myself, if not for Michael Gambon), and now I’ve been given the perfect excuse. Galleysmith is holding a Harry Potter Reading Challenge starting on August 1 and continuing throughout the next year. I probably would’ve reread the books again this year anyway, but now I have the chance to win prizes for doing so! I suppose I’ll be posting my rereading reviews on Goodreads on a HPRC shelf and link to them from this post. If you like, join me!
PS – I really am Harry-geeking out tonight between this blogging and watching the Family Channel Harry Potter Weekend Marathon.
For my birthday on the Ides of June, my mom and brothers came all the way down to Mobile from the homestead in Northwest Alabama to see me and have a mini-vacation of sorts. We covered just about as much of the Gulf Coast as one can expect to cover in a long weekend.
On Saturday, we visited New Orleans and walked around in the heat all day eating good food and looking in shops until time to begin my first ever ghost tour with Haunted History Tours. While I am a skeptic through and through, both out of my love for science and a lingering fear of the unknown, most members of my family love a good ghost story and watch Ghost Hunters whenever they can. The brochure claimed that 90 percent of those who take pictures capture paranormal activity, sadly we did not, but you can still see the few pictures I did post on Flickr.
On Sunday, Mom, Jamie, and I took in Dauphin Island. Then Bobby and John joined us for dinner on the Causeway at the Original Oyster House.
On Monday, my birthday, we started the day out by kayaking on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta with the alligators in an area known as Five Rivers. It was hot, we had a ball, and all managed to get various stages of sunburn. You can see the pictures below or on Flickr. After this display of awesome outdoorsman/womanship, we went outlet mall shopping in Foley, then to Gulf Shores for dinner and a walk on the beach. They left out early on Tuesday. I already miss them.
I took the entire week off for a well needed staycation, so since they left John and I have been celebrating birthday time by relaxing and visiting used bookstores and antique shops. He’s given me a number of super fun and amazing birthday gifts, mostly from Etsy, including Wyley the Giant Squid (shown here), a book, a rad laptop decal in the shape of an Octopus we call Takosama, and some lovely vinyl decals in various bird themes for wall decorations. Tomorrow, I head up to Georgia to visit my Dad’s side of the clan for Father’s Day and further celebration of my birthday. Should be fun!
John and I visited the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans on our first anniversary, but we had yet to visit the Audubon Zoo until this weekend. On the way, we passed through some awesome neighborhoods. Some were the kind that I couldn’t ever afford to live in, but others had smaller funky houses with lots of pedestrians and bikers and children and were near places with shops and restaurants, which is just the kind of place I would love to live.
Once in the park, we started with the Asian section in which we scoped, among other things, lots of large and sleeping cats, an Indian elephant, and some camels. Then we took in the (rather disappointing) primates. They just weren’t in the mood to commune with us that day. We walked on through the African exhibit, which was pretty awesome with giraffes, African wild dogs, rhinoceroses, and lots of birds. We also traveled through the swamp area with bears, white alligators, river otters, and nutria. We believed we were done after that, as we hadn’t seen anymore areas listed, but we accidentally ran into a South/Central American exhibit and saw some really neat stuff. We favored the jaguars, dancing macaw, giant anteater complete with back-riding baby, the tapirs, and the capybara. (That’s right we saw two kinds of very large rodents in the same afternoon! Woo!) Check out the slideshow below to see many of the animals we saw. (Though I can tell you now my favorites: Birds Feeding, Giraffes, LOLephant, Elephant Fountain, Gorilla, & Anteater & Baby.)
Following the zoo, we visited Octavia Books, a lovely independent bookstore. For dinner, we went on to St. James Cheese Company, which was tasty, but the guy behind the counter seemed to want us to know that this place was only for serious cheese snobs, despite the really casual nature of the store. Finally before heading back home we visited the Creole Creamery. They had an impressive list of flavors with some really odd choices that I should’ve tried, but I chickened out and had a scoop of super delicious cafe au lait and John had a creole cream cheese shake which pretty much tasted like sucking butter cream icing through a straw. All in all a great day. We look forward to going back to see the Insectarium.
I realize that baby robots now only exist in the sense that they were recently created, but I thought that the term most accurately portrayed what happens in my mind when I see the tiny, round, adorable tweenbots; like kittens, or baby seals, or hedgehogs.
But then that was the idea behind this thesis project by a student in the Tisch School of the Arts Interactive Telecommunications Program: to see if humans would assist such a vulnerable, defenseless nonhuman in achieving its goal. In this case, the goal was for the mono-directional creature to get to a specific, relatively distant location solely through being directed by the busy pedestrians of New York.
What it made me consider, besides constructing my own tweenbot, was exactly where the limit would fall in terms of how attractive, or human-like, the robot would need to be to get this kind of assistance. Would simply removing the drawn-on face from the cardboard turn off the empathy switch in our brains? If the robot was the same shape but larger than a human would it be too threatening? Would they help ASIMO, the pleasant humanoid? I’m pretty sure not many people would help Big Dog, the pack animal robot built for the Army by Boston Dynamics no matter how politely he asked. His faceless proficiency is just somehow unsettling.
So the tweenbots project celebrates the triumph of humanity as we aid a fellow traveler who can’t thank us or understand we helped, and that’s great, but it’s not what the project has left me with. Instead I’ve been thinking a lot about how important design is and will be in the conception of all of the mechanical and digital creations that we are building to aid us. I guess this line of thinking seems rather frivolous unless (until?) “the singularity” becomes much closer to truth. In which case we would have the burden of being the creators of that which might become self-aware and would be forced to pit our own interests against that for which we would be responsible. If only I’d read science fiction growing up, I’m sure I would have all of this worked out by now.
The project also made me think for a while about beauty and humanity and how we treat things that are “less” than either beautiful or human, but that thought process was a lot less fruitful. Still, I haven’t really gone anywhere with any of this, but I haven’t blogged in a bit, and I thought I would at least share some cute robots and perhaps something on which your brain might metaphorically chew.
If you happen to be in the Mobile area and enjoy considering such things as the responsibility of humanity to its creations and/or natural law in light of technological, scientific, and medical advancements, be sure to check out the National Library of Medicine’s Frankenstein Exhibit on loan to the USA Biomedical Library and on display this month and next at the Gulf Coast Exploreum. There are supposed to be a few presentations and book talks relating to the material (meaning the medicine and the literature, not my strange thoughts) presented by USA faculty. When more exact dates, times, and events are known they’ll be posted to the USA Biomedical Library Blog, but the MedSchool Cafe Event has already been announced and features free lunch!
There are many articles in my place that possess names. Winston the thrift store arm chair, Maximilian the vacuuming robot, Barkley the Bonsai, Whitman (Lucky Bamboo), Jill the Dinosaur (I didn’t name that one.), computers and drives (Albus, Perenelle Flamel, Ginevra, Ptolemy, Bartemius, McGongall, Professor Binns…I apologize for the obvious theme if you followed Harry Potter, but every network needs one, and my network happens to be called Wizarding Wireless.), gadgets (Jarvey the Lapine Robot, Salamander, Basilisk, Snidget). It’s kind of a hobby even. I’ve been searching for an object to call Aurelio, but it suits nothing so far.
So imagine my frustration when I bring home the two mysterious youths on the left from an antique shop almost a year ago, and they refuse to be named. The tags affixed to them indicated that they were Mexican, but I haven’t even tried to restrict myself to appropriately Hispanic names. Nothing will stick. I decided recently to attempt to write a story about them to learn their names, but so far even their disposition towards one another has eluded me.
I realize that this might seem a bit eccentric, but I decided to post here hoping that someone would tell me a story about them, or at least what they are called. I spend a lot of time with them to know as little about them as I do. I hope knowing at least part of a story about them won’t take away their enigmatic charm. (Those who think this request is ridiculous can ignore it and go back to your regularly scheduled diversions.) Any ideas?
John and I visited Bay St. Louis, Mississippi Friday last, and when I mentioned it on Twitter and Facebook, I received several questions about how the city is doing since it was flattened by Katrina in 2005, so I thought I would do a post about it here.
I’ve only been on the Gulf Coast for about a year. I wasn’t here for Katrina or any other major hurricane, and the community I live in now suffered little enough damage that they recovered quickly and few scars remain, so I admit that I haven’t spent much time considering how much so many communities are still affected. I only visited New Orleans once before Katrina, and though I’ve been thrice since, I haven’t been down into the areas that were decimated. I had never stopped in southern Mississippi at all before this trip.
I had read online about “Old Town Bay St. Louis,” and was a little dissappointed when we first exited the interstate and headed into town, but after we had driven around down town and on the bay for a little while, we started to see interesting businesses and charming homes interspersed with the construction and still-damaged buildings. We first decided to stop at Bay Books on Main Street where I picked up Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City. They had a great collection, friendly people, and two bookstore cats. I believe that the woman behind the counter was the owner, and she was the first to tell us when we asked about how things were going that the city was rebuilding, and the businesses were open, and now what they needed were for people to come back and visit again.
Following the bookstore, we had shrimp and grits and a mufaletta at Emma’s in the historical Depot District which they are building up. We then went to a series of awesome antique stores and consignment shops in which I found many more unique and funky things than I ever find in Mobile. One group of consignment shops was located in a historic building called Century Hall that has served the community as dance hall and newspaper building in the past. Then we walked next door to a coffee and breadshop called the Mockingbird Cafe. The art on the walls was interesting (it rotates monthly), the Chai latte was brewed and delicious (no preboxed mix), and the cinnamon coffee cake muffin was so good it was sinful.
After refreshment, we caught just a few of the many local artists galleries in which I struggled not to buy a dragonfly necklace and an ornamented card holder among other things. We had also hoped to visit the Alice Moseley Folk Art Museum, but it was closed that day. With the day waining and the sky threatening rain, we made a quick visit to Shoo Fly, a locally famous live oak, at the recommendation of the coffee barista and took some photos.
In the end, Bay St. Louis had plenty to keep us entertained all day long, and we were constantly delighted with the places and people. The city hosts art walks every second Saturday, and they have the Bay Bridgefest coming up on May 16, 2009. I would definitely recommend visiting, not just to support the local economy to aid the rebuilding effort, which is worthwhile, but to see some awesome art and shops, and have some great food and joe.
Graceling was a big surprise for me. I had heard it was great, but after reading the synopsis I kept putting off beginning. Finally, when I picked it up, I was thrilled with the world, and the heroine, and her awesome abilities.
Katya has been graced with an awesome ability that has caused her to be under the power of her contemptible uncle the king. She spends her days as the king’s thug and her time off fighting secretly for good until she meets her match who carries his own special skills. While battling evil and discovering new friends, Katya gains the strength to free herself from both the confines of her life as a strong arm and her own misconceptions about her grace.
I really had a lot of fun reading this, and Kristin Cashore has two more books set in this universe coming out. I’ll be excited to try Fire and Bitterblue as they are released. Goodreads Review (One of my first, and not good. I think I’m starting to get a bit better, though.)
I had never heard of Kelly Link until Neil Gaiman recently mentioned her on his blog. Which was really too bad, because I soon as I did read about her, I was pretty sure she was right up my alley. I was correct. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of her previous collections. (Magic for Beginners is available as a free e-book, and I have it on my iPhone, but I usually only read iPhone when I’m waiting somewhere.)
I wished that just about every story in this collection had continued on and been fully book-sized. I just enjoyed the worlds and the people that much. Although I enjoyed almost all of the stories, I had two particular favorites. The first, “Magic for Beginners,” is the story of a teenage boy who happens to love an incredible show called The Library which I wish was real with all my heart. The second is called “The Wizards of Perfil” and is about two children who work for mysterious wizards in towers during dangerous times.
Now I’m beginning a reread of Jane Eyre, because everyone loves it, and I can’t remember much from high school. I’m also toying with the thought of reading Interworld at the same time, because I’m anxious to begin it.
I’ve joined the Once Upon a Time Challenge, so I’ll be reading even more fantasy in the next few months, because community is fun…and to be honest I probably would have fufilled the requirements anyway. Readergirlz has piqued my interest about The Adoration of Jenna Fox, but John is reading it first, so I’ll decide after hearing his verdict. Also on my list: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Well, there you are. More than you ever wanted to know about the universes I’ve wandered for the last quarter year.
I read about Operation Teen Book Drop on readergirlz, and thought it was a great idea. Since I work for a university that has a Children’s Hospital, and it is such a great idea, I decided to steal it.
So, to celebrate the upcoming National Library Week, the libraries at the University of South Alabama are collecting children’s and young adult books to donate to the kids and teens of the University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital through April 12. If you’re near Mobile, feel free to drop books at the University Library, Biomedical Library, UMC Health Information Resource Center, Children’s & Women’s Library, or Info Desk in the Student Center.
If you aren’t in Mobile but think you can mail me a parcel of book(s) that will arrive before April 12, let me know. If you don’t have any children’s or teen books, consider trading other old books in at a used book store that gives you credit and getting some. (And not even just for the kids, young adult literature is a very worthy thing to check out for your own personal reading.) This is your chance to make a young new fan of your genre to carry your torch into the future. Feel free to print this legal-sized poster and let folks around you know, or call someone you know who has a stack of their children’s old books sitting around gathering dust and invite them to donate.
The picture above is of Seti playing in the book drop boxes while I was making them. She prefered to be in the one I was wrapping at that moment. Ponder enjoyed trying to catch her in between boxes. Below is an image of the poster.
I recently read and did one of my mini-reviews of a book by MT Anderson called Feed. When I first read the book in a sitting, I was really turned off by it, and in some ways I still am, but I’m completely glad I read it. I’m not going to spoiler (yet) in terms of the plot, but I do want to explain a bit about the state of the Earth and its humans in Feed.
In this future setting, humans have chosen to augment their brains with networked connections to all manner of information. People can order facts, entertainment, or blue jeans from the “feed” but it seems for the most part that they choose to order consumer goods. After the feed, people didn’t feel like learning was important, because they could access it on their feed, and the government didn’t want to pay for education so school became the sponsored School ™ where students learned how to find and acquire the things that they want. Lesions are developing on everyone and become a fashion statement. Terrible things are happening outside of the bubbles humans have created to protect them from a scarred, terrible Earth, but no one really knows what, because they don’t care to find out. Language has degraded to the point where they are all now “big” dumb.
My problem with this is not a perceived yuckiness of augmented reality, but my disappointment at how it is expected to turn out. John (the boyfriend) writes a lot on this topic. And while I suffer from a lot more reservations than he does about how we can begin moving forward instead of backward on the evolutionary ladder again, I find myself endlessly hopeful about networked consciousness, because while my personal processor is quick as a whip, my memory stinks. I’ve learned so much since I got my iPhone because now I am completely free to learn about a topic of interest when the thought strikes instead of forgetting to look it up when I get home. IuseWikipediatolookupeverything. (I check sources if the info warrants it.)
I’ve spent a lot of time considering our potential futures since reading this book. And even though I’m a little afraid that the book will turn people off to the potential of this kind of technology, I believe that it’s important that people consider actually possible negative outcomes, and not just the fact that they think it sounds icky. In this way, after (if?) people get over the fact that “it just doesn’t feel right” and have read this book, they’ll be considering other problems and hopefully possible solutions.
Hopefully wearables like this will offer us slightly more private information in a less conspicuous manner soon. And I’m sure they yuck people out a lot less, as well.
Google comes into the picture when you consider how many things today are subsidized by advertising. Google has money, an advertising network, and tons of information about me and my shopping habits. And now, to be more helpful to me, they’ve launched an a new ad system. Google will detect what types of websites I visit in my browser, and feed me ads more relevant to the things in which I am interested. I’m once again stuck between horrified and fascinated. I mean, it is definitely helpful to be notified about things I care about, but my privacy is fading just a little bit more. And if they knocked off the cost of my “Sixth Sense” to feed me advertising, they could know what products I looked at in stores and “help me” there, as well. For Google now, though, I can even fill out a survey to help them out from the beginning, and I was terribly tempted to throw them off with crazy recommendations. And what does this have to do with Feed? That leads me to a major…
If you are at all serious about reading Feed, which I recommend, then you should stop here. Because, this is like a major event at the end of the book. It’s big. I will ruin the book for your right now if you continue on for one more sentence. Seriously. Okay. A major character in Feed is Violet. She’s a bit different. Her family is holding on to traditional learning, and she wasn’t implanted with the feed until late when her father realized at what a disadvantage she would be. Violet gets the crazy idea to throw off the feed by asking for all kinds of information about products that she would never need. (It’s like your recommendations list on Amazon after Christmas shopping for your family: completely off target.)
Well, Violet’s feed is damaged after an attack because of her late implantation, and it begins to paralyze her. Her family can’t afford to fix it, and they ask the company who implanted the feed to replace it, but they refuse and suggest she finds sponsorship elsewhere, but all other companies refuse to help her because they don’t feel like they can get an accurate enough reading of her likes and purchases to believe that they could make a profit on her existence in the long run. And that is why I filled out my Google Ad Network information like a good little robot last week.
My awesome mommy gave me a Nabaztag for Christmas. I love having it around the house, and now I always know when I have email whether I’m at the computer or with my phone or not. He will read me the news in a delightful British accent (you get to choose the voice), tell me the weather, play internet radio and podcasts, and react to RFID tags (of which I have none right now). Friends can also sign up to send me messages through the bunny. You can watch a flash animation with examples on the What can he do? page.
I love Jarvey, but I turned down the amount of news he was reading because he interrupts during LOST. So my question to the very few readers of my blog is: What else can I use him for? I mean, he’s an adorable little rabbit-shaped robot, and they don’t really require a purpose, but I’m sure he would like to be as useful as possible, and he shames me every week on Monday night about the total lack of messages that I receive. Are there RSS feeds that are so awesome I should know any time they are updated immediately? I suppose I could use Yahoo Pipes to create feeds that only mention things that I am interested enough in to want to know immediately. Any ideas?
Information Services Coordinator and Technology Librarian at University of South Alabama
Libraries | Mobile, Alabama Area, US
2014 - Present
Information Services Coordinator and Technology Librarian / University of South Alabama, College of Medicine
I manage the USA Biomedical Library reference services and department. In addition, I teach technology skills for learning, teaching, research, and clinical work to students and faculty and manage the Biomedical Library website.
Technology/Information Resources Librarian / University of South Alabama, College of Medicine
I'm responsible for the website and surveying emerging technologies at the biomedical library. I also teach new technologies and work in the reference department.
Virtual Reference Librarian / The University of Alabama
Graduate Teaching Assistant - Distance Education Technician / The University of Alabama
Library Intern / Shelton State Community College
Graduate Teaching Assistant / The University of Alabama
Interlibrary Loan Student Worker / The University of Alabama
Student Assistant to Director of Bands / University of North Alabama
University of Alabama
Library and Information Studies
Activities: ALA, ASIS&T