Air Guitar Over-Inflated?

Doesn't this invention defeat the actual purpose of air guitar, which is for people who can't actually play the guitar?

And more importantly, why does this still seem like such a cool idea?


Information is Blood

I remember when, for me, a personal crisis was: "What do I do without a book?" Now, it's: "What do I do without the internet?"

Granted, this is somewhat justified. I go to school online, I work online (even my face-to-face job requires the internet), I bank online, I shop online, I get the news online, I listen to the radio online, I keep up with friends and family online, and I even--get this--read for pleasure online.

Case in point: today during GLA training, the library's internet connection went down. So much for training; we were powerless. So we got to leave early: yay! But, wait--what can I do with 30 seconds to 3 hours without the internet? I know, I'll do some schoolwork--oh, wait. Oh, okay, I'll catch up on the blogs I read--oh, right. Well, I could balance my checkbook--darn it--research my term paper--arg--look up some books to buy--dangit!

I was much relieved upon coming upstairs to find that the 30 seconds had passed and my lifeline was running again. I think that the average 2000's 20-something can operate fine without water, food, or blood for upwards of a week, but 30 seconds without the internet is what kills.

Best of 2005

Here are my favorites from PC World's Master List:

1. Firefox
2. G-mail
16. Google
51. Flickr
60. Wikipedia
76. Google Desktop Search

I'd definitely have put Firefox at the top of that list, too.

Stargate DVD Progress Update:
SG-1 Season 8: Episode 13 (It's Good to Be King)
Atlantis Season 1: Episode 18 (The Gift)


Do Not Open Until Christmas

Thanksgiving was pleasant and restful. After our dinner with the Hoffman-Majors clan, my parents, Alex, and I enjoyed some vanilla ice cream with the cranberry relish that we forgot to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. Alex, Dad, and I went out in the insanely wee hours of the post-Thanksgiving morn to shop at Best Buy, Staples, Michael's, and Home Depot--I am happy to report that Best Buy now has the formerly chaotic Black Friday Sale down to a precise art form.

I spent this afternoon wrapping presents beside a fully-lit Christmas tree. It is a symbol of my holiday triumph; I have only two gifts left to purchase, all of Alex's presents are wrapped, and my tree is up and lit before November has ended. This is a good sign for the year ahead.

Now I'm in Denton four hours early for work, so that I can work on site-mapping the website for my second job. I'd be doing this from the comfort of my own laptop and couch, maybe still in my PJ's, except that our flaky broadband is living up to its, er, reliably unreliable reputation. What I wouldn't give for some healthy competition in the area to shake them into providing actual service.

For the geek on your list who has almost everything: a Lego hard drive.


Thanksgiving Shennanigans

I am thankful that my stomach expanded enough to digest all that food.

...So my parents, Alex, and I are 45 minutes into the hour trip south to my sister-in-law's house, when I suddenly recall the two bowls of cranberry relish sitting hopefully in the fridge, that my mother and I cooked last night. Still...sitting...in....the fridge. You'd think that with only one dish to prepare and bring for this meal, that it would be relatively simple to keep track of. Ah, but then you would not realize that I come of forgetful stock, and that our main focus this morning was getting there to take family pictures.

But then again, with all the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, rolls, yams, salad, pies, and the infamous canned cranberry sauce, I doubt anyone would have had room--and there certainly wasn't any room on the table. I am full to bursting. Ah, the holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Ode to a Starbucks Iced White Chocolate Latte

all hail sweet caffeine,
true nectar of the gods;
at once enter my bloodstream
before i break down in sobs.

soothe the blood vessels that pulse
so wildly in my head;
ease my sinus pressure, or else
they'll count me soon as dead.

oh wondrous drink, oh precious surge
as new strength floods my brain;
i only wish this wondrous splurge
didn't cause shakes like a freight train.

The poem was brought to you by the letter "P," Starbucks, and RhymeZone.com. They offer their sincerest apologies for the poor quality of this verse, and place all blame on the blogger's BA in English.


By Geeks, For Geeks

I have to say that one of the great things about SG1 is that a story can focus on any one character and still be great. Case in point: "Prometheus Unbound" from Season 8, which I just watched last night, was in my opinion one of the top 10 best episodes of that show. It starred Daniel, co-starred Hammond, and only briefly featured O'Neil. Teal'c and Sam didn't even make an appearance, and let me tell you, most of my favorite moments come from either O'Neil or from his interplay with Sam. But this episode was excellent. Not only was it a great idea to use Claudia Black (foretelling casting another Farscape alum next season?), but it was hilarious. The fact that the show consistently guest-stars actors from other sci-fi series, as well as quoting Star Wars in odd moments just shows that sci-fi shows are best when written/directed by geeks.

And I have to say that a catnap with a husband under a snuggly blanket during the autumn chill is wondrously decadent. And snuggly.


Have Patience, Have Patience

I just gave my first research instruction session for a high-schooler. Man, are they impatient. There must be something in that three-month gap from high school senior to college freshman that lends them about five years' worth of patience. Thank goodness I'm not in the school librarian program--I felt like I was teaching a nervous squirrel, if whom I did not engage in constant conversation and activity, simultaneously, would leap away into the trees to search for nuts on its own.

Wow, that's a bizarre metaphor. Maybe I need some sleep. Away from squirrels.

(Related to the title, here's where you can listen to the lyrics from The Music Machine...)

Vote for Your Space Movie!

Vote here. The tallies are always changing, but Empire's moved up from third place to first in the five minutes I spent here--whoopie! And I am gratified to see that ST: First Contact made it in. Wrath of Kahn was a given, but I was was pleasantly surprised to know there are enough TNG fans out there that love this movie, too.

Assimilate this!


Goofus vs. Gallant

Remember Gallant from the "Goofus and Gallant" comic strip in Highlights magazine? Man, that guy was smug. And I always thought, of course that Goofus kid won't put away the dishes and is never polite--his parents are so mean they named the poor kid Goofus. Wouldn't that turn most people into a hardened criminal? I think it's incredible that the kid just has problems like not making his bed and turning in his library books late, instead of holding up convenience stores. That Gallant kid probably got a full scholarship to Princeton and then turned into a nervous wreck after nine months of trying to keep his 4.0.

What? Why are you calling me cynical?

Random Weekend Notes:

Tinfoil Hats

It's a running theme this week: Richard Stallman at the UN Summit on Information Society, and Unshelved take on tinfoil hats. This reminds me of an episode of This American Life dealing with SETI and a guy who wore tinfoil hats because aliens implanted him with some device (you can listen to this episode online). Entertaining show.

Update: TAL link now working.

Preservation, Superheroes, & the Man Who Has Everything

It felt deeply wrong to have a group of library science students purposefully destructing books. Even books that were going to be discarded, and needed to be destructed enough that we could re-bind them. We all giggled nervously and cringed as we gingerly ripped the endpaper from the cover and then removed the text block from the spine. We joked about donating our bodies to library science--not medical science--to make bone folders for future preservation students. We grunted and moaned (some of us cursed) as we tried to tuck recalcitrant buckram under the bookcloth. Eventually, we all emerged with books that were more functional, if not more attractive, than when we received them. Mine's got a great title--"The Secret City"--but it's really about race relations. Still, it was better than my neighbor's, a math book that we declared possessed because its buckram wouldn't sit straight.

I'm taking my lunch break in the Reference office where I can eat my hot pocket and steal a few moments with my latest library finds: Maus (graphic novel about the holocaust and, yes, mice) and How to Read Superhero Comics and Why, literary criticism that isn't stuffy in the least and promises not to use the terms postmodern or deconstructionist, terms the author calls "tedious," and my BA in English agrees. I'm intrigued by the title of Chapter Two, The Bat and the Watchmen: Introducing the Revisionist Superhero Narrative.

I'm going to save most of this reading for Christmas break, even though I already have five sparkling new hardbacks on my bookshelf at home to read. But my self-taught course in graphic novels is taking hold of me, and I want to absorb as much as possible quickly--and get to sketching out more of the five ideas I have for my webcomic so I can get it online already.

Alex is cutting down scrap metal today while I'm in Denton, and then we've got his dad's birthday dinner. It's always difficult to find a good present for my father-in-law. You know how they say that there's the person who has everything? Usually this is accompanied by a vision of a man in white pants, a sweater casually draped over his button-down shirt, holding a bag of golfclubs and standing next to a Mercedes-Benz. Well let me tell you, that rich guy does not have everything; I know because my father-in-law contains not one, but two of everything in his building.

It's an amazing place. I've found things you'd expect to find there--wrenches, drill presses, tractor parts, buckets of old chains--but there are lots of unexpected things peeking around the corner. Right now, it's home to my drafting table (to reside in my art studio in the future) and a cage full of cats. I'm sure it will be a Mecca to curious grandchildren. I don't think you can call him a pack rat; he's elevated the occupation to an art form. Perhaps in library terms, I could call him a Collection & Acquisitions Manager.


Deluxe Shushing Action

Just to let my fellow library nerds know, the Nancy Pearl librarian action figure now comes in a deluxe version, complete with bookcart! Note to Self: Add to wishlist. When I'm a professional "liberry-an" in May, I want this figure to sit on top of my monitor, next to Batgirl. It'll be my little librarian-action-figure tableau.

And for when I need ample protection for my swashbuckling activities, I'd like one of these. Starr Hoffman, Lady Knight.

Laptops Get a Hand

Wind-up laptops for $100, trying to bridge the digital divide for schoolchildren in Brazil, Thailand, Egypt, and Nigeria. Interesting.


Short and Sweet

Brevity is the soul of wit.


My Mom's Funnier Than Yours

I love my mother, and boy can I tell that I get wackiness from her (as well as Dad; there was no escape, with my genes). She sent me one of those "get to know your friends" forms, and there are too many hilarious answers to repeat here. Just know that my mother is a comic genius. And, um, slightly crazy.

Probably my two favorite of her answers:
Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
No, he's usually hungry.
What is your favorite number?

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my mother doesn't eat the stems off of broccoli. Now I can stop feeling guilty about it.

Okay, I just helped a student find a book. What was the call number? BT1138. No joke. (Okay, so there's not a THX, but I think it should count for something.)

Nostalgic Interlude

I've found it!

First I found the Commander Keen games available online, now I return to PC gaming nostalgia with "Another Lifeless Planet and me with No Beer." Some of you may be shocked to learn that I played this game in eighth grade, constantly--and even more shocked that my somewhat strict parents approved. But the game isn't really about Beer, it's a humorous text-based game that involves odd situations while attempting to leave the afore-mentioned Lifeless Planet.

It's kinda sad really; I found the game online on a review site that trashed it, saying it was poorly written, had boring puzzles, and wasn't funny. Well, it wasn't the most challenging game--except for the very last step, that I never finished and the reason why I've been searching for the game--but I always found it amusing. And I love those cheesy text-based pictures! Wow, 80s high-tech!

And I mean come on, the game was shareware--can you fault something that's free entertainment? I mean, Warner charged money for people to go see Catwoman--that's an issue that should get you upset.

In other news, I've decided that this is officially the Best Fall Ever. Temperatures usually in the 70s or 80s, and "cool fronts" instead of cold ones--I'm all over that. This South Texas gal likes her sunshine and her warmth. Oh, and miracle of miracles, this is the first fall in my life that I have seen the titular reason for the season--leaves in action, falling. Honest-to-goodness, I'd never seen it before. And I've seen it, not once, but many many days, leaves just floating to the ground like golden snowflakes. It's so graceful and tranquil... even if it leaves the trees stark naked and depressed-looking.

To go back to nostaglia... we watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last night. I enjoyed it, but was pretty surprised that there are actually a few things that I preferred from the 70's version (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, to be technical).

Best Looking Wonka: C&CF
Best Acting/Singing/Slightly Creepy Wonka: WW&CF
Best Looking Oompa-Loompas: C&CF
Best Oompa-Loompa Songs: WW&CF (With the exception of the great Augustus Gloop song in C&CF)
Best Charlie/Grandpa Joe: C&CF (by a MILE)
Best Overall Visuals/Overall Movie: C&CF

The Great Glass Elevator rocked, and I really did love Depp's performance, but there's just something about Gene Wilder's creepy "and the rowers keep on ROWING!" that will stick with me from childhood. And before my fellow Readers "get all up ons," YES, the book(s) are infinitely better and always will be. My friend, movies are at a disadvantage because they have to use financial budgets instead of imaginations. Let's be kind to them.


Fandom: Geek vs. Nerd

Neil Gaiman's story "Changes" off-handedly mentions some religions in the context of the story. Casually thrown in with Scientology and Islam are Orthodox Trek Fandom and New Trek Fandom. This hilarious invention reminded me of the similar "historical events" mentioned in the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before:" the Star Trek Wars and the Star Wars Trek (the first being a religious war, and the second being the vast migration of Star Wars fans).

Ah yes, my eternal inner conflict: geek or nerd? (Score yourself here; see my results.)

Yeah... the whole Star Wars Geek thing tends to win out. You can cite all the good reasons you want for this decision, but when it comes down to it, would you rather attend a sci-fi convention dressed in a nondescript uniform, or wearing a blue bodysuit, lightsaber, and lekku? Yeah, I thought so.


TP Mystery

Either there was some kind of pee emergency this weekend at the library, or one of the sororities decided that stealing all the TP from the ladies' rooms was a great prank. Either way, if you're planning on coming to the library tonight to study and you're bringing a water bottle, then BYOTP.

Homework Weekend Extravaganza

Day Two. Um... boring.

The lunch interlude from homework--clicking on random links that I couldn't backtrace if my Carrie-Fisher-autographed-Leia-Boussh figure depended on it--led me to "Joe Loves Crappy Movies," another webcomic reviewing movies. This is a neat genre, people. My current favorites:

Star Wars Dialogue
Star Wars Revelation
History of Violence

Enjoy the geekish hilarity!

Toads and Tired

Jack Toad and the Beanstalk
Originally uploaded by Starrlett.
Here's the most recent addition to the Fairy Tails project. It's nearly one am, I spent all day working on my research paper, and I edited six photos for this project. I'm tired and loopy, and probably in the morning all the images I edited won't make any sense. Ah, well.

Alex had fun gunning, James is here, and in the morning they go off with Kenneth to the Gun and Knife Show. I remain here for more homework (ugh) and to drive to work at 5pm.

On the bright side, I got my "Reference is Cool" button in the mail today. And it is!



There's some kind of strange quality to short stories--published ones, that is. I can't quite put my finger on it. It's something like longing, or sadness, or mystery. It seems to be something unique to the short story form; I haven't some across it in novels. Something about the short form that leaves you wanting something more, something melancholy or unexpected about the endings.

This struck me because I've been stealing moments to read stories from Neil Gaiman's collection Smoke and Mirrors this week. This quality appears in about two thirds of these stories, and I've also noticed it in Audrey Niffenegger's "The Night Bookmobile," and in Anne McCaffrey's The Girl Who Heard Dragons. It doesn't appear much in short stories written for children or young adults, and I've never noticed that quality in my own short stories (however, these were mostly written when I was a child or young adult, so perhaps it only makes sense).

What IS that?

Alex is out shooting clays with Joel and Kenneth, and is quite pleased to get a chance to shoot an M-1 Grand. I'm at home working on my Preservation research paper--which means that I am reading articles that are interesting individually but don't really seem to be linked in any way. And I've just gotten online to re-read the paper requirements in hope that it will somehow spark academic inspiration within me, by noting that it should be 8-10 pages long, double-spaced.

Perhaps instead I should be writing a short story, 8-10 pages, double-spaced, about a preservationist that is sad, longing, and slightly mysterious.


Gee, Shucks

This guy that I've helped several times just came up and said "Oh good, my favorite desk clerk is here."

Awww... I feel so special!

(warm and squishy feelings of librarian accomplishment)

Tricks or Treats?

So, Amy and I are trying to get together to regularly schedule a workout. And as I emailed her, I realized that the first time we could get together was the week after Thanksgiving. That seems either incredibly ironic, appropriate, or just plain wrong; I don't know which.

We can work off all that stuffing and turkey. And pie. And cranberry relish. And mashed potatoes. And rolls.

Man, I am DOOMED. I can already see that weighed-down plate of holiday treats. And the weighed-down aftermath of holiday derriere.

Oh, did I mention gravy? Sigh...

Warning: Yogurt raisins are addictive. It doesn't matter how healthy they are if you eat 2 1/2 pounds of them in one day.

Web Reading List

An apropos excerpt from this last link, to the Digger-creator's blog:

"There is also another sense in which ceramics was insanely valuable to me, and that was that it taught me my art is not precious merely because I had the audacity to create it." -- Ursula Vernon


Have You Voted?

Go perform your patriotic duty, whatever your opinion on the issues. And get more information on how and where to vote here.


I Love My Job

Today, I helped patrons find information on:
1) careers in emergency management

2) speeches by the Black Panthers
3) the pros of strip clubs

I'm so not kidding about #3. It's a different story every day at the reference desk!

A Different Angle

So... is it just my own twisted mind, or are these study carrels an unfortunate shape?

Makes you think twice about the supposed innocuity of choosing office furniture.


Crazy Creative Updates

Here it is, the first completed Art Stein, titled "A Stitch in Stein!" My parents took one of Alex's clever ideas and executed it beautifully. Gee, now I have to get cracking on my own steins...

..And here's a photo update of the Media Room mural (click the link for more).

'Tis the Season

Shameless Self-Promotion, or Convenience to Family and Friends? You decide, by visiting my addition to the links at left, Starr's Wishlist. (And no, I'm not suggesting you buy everything from Amazon--I prefer books in hardback form, but used/cheap is fine, and Best Buy really has better prices on DVDs.)

Anatomy of a Post

Here's how blogging works: I have something I'd really like to write about, and this witty way of saying it pops into my head. However, I can't write it immediately because I am driving/showering/working. I eagerly wait minutes/hours/days for the opportunity to write, and when it comes--nothing. Not even that I lack the witty words, but the subject has completely left me, leaving me with a weak post:

"So... today I performed Innane Tasks. Um... So I'll related a Weakly Told, Mildly Interesting Anecdote that reveals my complete Lack of Purpose to This Blog. Sigh."

Heck, I can't even credit this topic with originality--I just read Kodiak's post and completely agreed.

So here goes the Weakly Told, Mildly Interesting Anecdote:
Last night, we went out Genghis Grill for dinner with Jared and my in-laws, it being my father-in-law's birthday. I piled random things into my bowl, including steak, pineapple, cilantro, and zucchini, and mixed some orange and BBQ sauce in it. My lack of good choices notwithstanding, it tasted pretty good. Jared then suggested, since we had eaten at a Pick-Your-Own-Weird-Taste place, that we dessert at a similar place--Cold Stone Creamery. Where I chose to mix mint ice cream with kit-kats--not my highest moment, but not bad.

Then we came back home and Jared, Alex, and I watched the end of SG-1 Season 7 and the beginning of Season 8 (FINALLY!). We had watched Tenchi (the movie) earlier, and I tiredly went to bed at 1:30am--Alex told me he rolled in about 4. Now they're playing Gamecube while I post to my blo--er, post comments to my class in WebCT. And when I'm done I'll make pancakes.

End of Weakly Told, Mildly Interesting Anecdote (that went on too long). Sigh...

update: Mario Baseball may not be the greatest game by itself, but the "Toy Field" mode is genius, sheer genius!



jared here. feet tired. house clean. belly full.


Escape Artist

It's not allowed to be November already.

Alex is reading Ringworld while I read Neverending Story (almost done!) and work on those "Fairy Tail" images in the evening. We haven't had a Reading Cycle in awhile now--in fact, the last time I remember that we had a mutual Reading Cycle was when Alex was reading LOTR, which was quite some time back. We're both enjoying how relaxing it is--lately I've been either too sinus-headache-y for a "boom-y" movie, or just felt too stressed to watch a movie with any kind of conflict--which leaves, what, the Muppet Show?

So it's nice to have a bit of pleasure-reading time--ahh, escapism--although I haven't got nearly enough of it to commit to Knife of Dreams. Maybe when I finish the images, and the website report, and my research paper... Like when classes end on December 12th! ;-)

Yesterday, I painted three more pharaoh heads and added the border stripes to the Egyptian mural. I hope to paint again Friday, and perhaps Saturday, since I need to finish by the 11th.

We won't mention the current state of the house or the fact that Jared comes into town Friday night (yay for company, eeek for cleaning!). Maybe if I'm lucky, tiny little elves will clean it for me in the meantime. Or big, cleanly ogres--I'm not picky.


WordPress-ing Comics

Well, after some discussion & research with Alex, I've decided to go ahead and give WordPress a shot. The main reason being that it is continually mentioned as "EASY," which is a magic word for the girl who just wants her darned webcomic up and running already.

I'm checking two threads for ideas for a webcomic-oriented theme (1, 2). Let me know if you find something better. Please.


Fixed and pretty again! And hey, didja notice my spiffy new Flickr badge? Didja didja?

Technical Difficulties

Yes, I know, I know. IE-users, you see my right-hand column displayed at the bottom of my page, and it's ugly and annoying. To which I reply:

1) Go download Firefox, you evil Microsoft-Supporter!

2) It's the "Batgirl Rocks" post's fault, and I'll carefully examine its HTML tags when I get half a chance. (Which means the weekend, probably, at the earliest.)

C'mon, people, I'm holding down three jobs, three classes, and I hear rumors that my husband enjoys eating dinner occassionally. Have patience.

Update: I spent a few minutes trying different things on the Batgirl post (which is when the problem began), and no change. There's a Blogger Help section on this, so I'll try messing with the Batgirl image some more. Ugh.


For photos of the World's Smallest Book and more Rare Books Room fun, see my Flickr page.

Yesterday, I had my first Preservation lab. We learned Mylar techniques--encapsulating, book jacket covers, and pamphlet covers! I learned a most valuable lesson: I am neither coordinated nor patient enough to work easily with Mylar. Ah well, it's good to know your limits, right?

I did enjoy using telephone insulators to weight down the projects--it reminded me of my Grandpa, who used to collect these (he worked for Bell back in the day). His basement was filled with hundreds of them. I need to ask Grandpa if he's got any left that I could put in my garden. (Or rather, my collection of bedraggled plants that once resembled a garden. If any fairies truly live at the bottom of my garden, right now they are very depressed.)

Preserving books, to telephone insultators, to fairies. Never say I don't keep you entertained... or at least confused.