May 26 to June 1 is National Hurricane Prep Week. With this in mind, and after the devastating tornado in Oklahoma, it’s time once more to remind ourselves to assemble a disaster preparedness kit. At this point I have to confess that even though disaster preparedness and response is one of my professional interests, I am one of those creatures that actually has not gotten around to gather all the supplies. And this although I know exactly what is supposed to go into such a kit, and where to get more information.
Your best resource for disasters and related information is Ready.gov.
For those of you who have been thinking about getting prepared, I recommend to peruse the web site (and bookmark it, too). Until you find the time to do some extended reading, I hope that the selection of links below will save you time and still get you started:
Finally, remember that local and public libraries are playing an important role as first responders in emergency situations. Oftentimes, they are able to offer an Internet connection, phone service and of course staff that is able to help you. Check today with your library if they have a disaster plan in place, and if it includes options that will help their users.
In no particular order, here are my favorites of this week:
Suntrust Radio Commercial [Woman speaking about how Suntrust helped them to find the right products and worked with them on planning their financial future]:
“Sure, we will make mistakes. But giving our child a head start won’t be one of them.”
Along those lines is a commercial from Dominion Fertility:[Guy speaking in a soothing and fake-compassionate voice]: “In economically challenging times like these you have to be careful what to do with your money. That is why Dominion Fertility is right for you.” [...] Huh? So, in order to make no mistake and throw money out of the window, I should spend my saved money on having a baby, which in turn costs thousands of dollars more? Not the most convincing commercial if you ask me.
Slight Misunderstanding: [WTOP] A Virginia man tried to board a flight at Dulles International Airport on Sunday with a live smoke grenade concealed in the lining of his passenger’s bag, authorities say.
Knives, man, the TSA said knives … okay, and baseball bats/golf clubs. But not grenades!
Ryan’s Unfortunate Slip-Up We knew it all along, but it’s so nice to hear from the person himself that he does not give a damn:
Upset with Government Decisions? One reason could be …
And my absolute favorite: Mr. Stubbs has a tail again!
I found this awesome recipe when I had a craving for chocolate but, of course, did not have any. I also did not have regular flour for muffins. After some browsing I found a recipe for a flour-less chocolate cake in a mug. That’s right, in a mug! And the best part is: It takes about 3mins total to make this.
What you need:
A mug (duh …)
Some oil (you need to coat the inside of the mug, otherwise the cake will stick; a thin layer is enough, just discard the remaining oil)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I usually eyeball that one).
1 egg, whisked
Mix all of this together, pour the batter into the mug, and bake it in the microwave for about 20-50 seconds. The time varies by the size of the cup and your microwave power, but the cake is usually done when the batter rises all the way to the top (so keep an eye out for it).
In order to get the cake and the remaining chocolate sauce, I put a small plate on the mug and turn it over. Voila! A decadent chocolate cake in three minutes (that’s a commercial break on TV)! For those who wonder about calories and fat, this cake has about 170 calories and 6g fat. Not too bad for a really nice and satisfying dessert!
I am sure you can vary the recipe … I will try honey and powdered sugar next, maybe some vanilla flavor. Have fun, and happy baking!
No, I don’t speak Italian. At least not more than a few words.
Good news: I am finally an American citizen. I retained my German citizenship, so I hold dual citizenship. I hope that this will make things easier for me (especially career-wise). Why did I chose this (for foreigners most difficult) career path again? Oh, right, because I am an idiot and never do things the easy way. I wish I had little critters like Pocahontas does. But I’d have turtles, a cat and a pit bull trying to sit on my shoulder … good luck with that.
The topic for today’s post walked right through the front door. A member of a Chinese delegation approached me to ask about the location of the “Double-u DC”. Huh? He explained: “The Double-u DC, you know, for ladies …” The light-bulb that went off in my head was probably visible three blocks away: Oh, the RESTROOM! First door to your left.
Now, don’t ask me why he asked for the restroom for ladies …
I have never heard anyone in the States refer to the restroom as WC. In Germany, yes, we use that term. Maybe German and Chinese are more closely related than I thought
Language, and especially its comical misuse, is one of my passions. Most people don’t understand why a simple grammatical error cracks me up while Dave Chapelle’s humor makes me want to choke him. But bear with me, I promise that at the end of this post you’ll understand me a little better.
If you haven’t read Dave Barry Does Japan, then you just found the next title to borrow from the library. Dave does not only cover the linguistic curiosities such as
but also points out cultural differences between Japan and the States:
“I understand that, even if two Japanese have worked together for many years, neither would dream of using the other’s first name. Whereas Americans are on a first-name basis immediately, and by the end of the first day have generally graduated to ‘Yo, Butthead!’”
Bill Bryson also published a few books that will make you laugh even when you think that your life has to be the most miserable on earth today. His Dictionary of Troublesome Words is the essential guide to everything the English language has to offer if your goal is to thoroughly confuse anybody:
abbreviations, contractions, acronyms. Abbreviation is the general term used to describe any shortened word. Contractions and acronyms are types of abbreviation. A contraction is a word that has been squeezed in the middle, so to speak, but has retained one or more of its opening and closing letters, as with Mr. for Mister and can’t for cannot. An acronym is a word formed from the initial letter or letters of a group of words, as with radar for radio detecting and ranging, and NATO for North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Abbreviations that are not pronounced as words (IBM, ABC, NFL) are not acronyms; they are just abbreviations. (Source)
According to Bryson, “This book might more accurately, if less convincingly, have been called A Guide to Everything in English Usage That the Author Wasn’t Entirely Clear About Until Quite Recently.”
And if you get your laughs out of something more “21st century than books” (thanks, Dave … ), then check out this!
A research report found that when funding is cut (especially then!), libraries see a large increase in attendance.
Great publicity for libraries, which are not going away but becoming more and more important.
For impatient readers: The video is at the bottom of the post
Recently, Natalie DeJonghe* released the results of a survey she conducted for one of her classes at the University of Wisconsin. She intended to find out how librarians perceive themselves, and -more relevant for this post- how the public perceives librarians. The results are somewhat surprising, given the stereotypical view of librarians that we encounter all the time. Librarians still conjure a certain imagine in people’s minds:
Ladies, mostly older and white (this was a new one for me) with buns, wearing glasses and dressing somewhat conservatively.
Help people to find books and sit behind a desk and read all day, occasionally shush patrons.
At least once a week I encounter a person whose opinion is in dire need of being updated (to say it nicely), and they are surprised when I briefly tell them about all the things that we do.
Based on this, I always have the feeling that people do not perceive our profession as something that requires a lot of education, experience, and skills … although I am pretty sure I demonstrated the skill of patience by actually telling people about our job and not smack them on the back of their heads.
So imagine my surprise when I looked at Natalie’s results. Librarians are perceived as:
Scholarly, tech savvy
Intelligent, capable, detail-orientated individuals who make the world a better place
Skilled person that helps patrons with a variety of needs, such as research, internet and email help, book recommendations, and just general local knowledge.
Intelligent, well read, educated.
Important now and in the future (!)
Not just the survey results paint this picture though. When I was working at a public library, I was surprised by how many people assume that librarians “just know things”. And questions were not just book-related. Patrons would come in with their e-readers, hold it up to us and say “Please explain to me how this works.” Noticed something here? Yes, exactly. They did not ask “Do you know how this works, and can you explain it?” The same goes for computer programs, job applications, a variety of skills, questions about movies, music … pretty much everything you can imagine.
So how come that despite this positive image, librarians are still perceived the way I mentioned above?
Have a look at what the Occupational Outlook Handbook has to say about us:
Librarians help people find information from many sources. They maintain library collections and do other work as needed to keep the library running.
There may be competition for librarian positions, but those with library science training may be able to use those skills in other settings.
I think the OOH needs to update their description … the skills we have are valuable to settings outside the library.
Another great example for misconceptions is the article Beyond Books, published on finance.yahoo.com (and people wonder why I don’t like Yahoo …). In this article, the job outlook for librarians is described as “terrible”. And why? Because
“[...] Many middle-class workers have lost jobs because powerful software and computerized machines are doing tasks that only humans could do before.”
The example given is the following:
“Steven Herman, left, head of the Library of Congress storage facility, at the Library of Congress in 2003, in Washington, and left, a “bookBot”, an automated retrieval system at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library at North Carolina State University in 2013, in Raleigh, N.C. “
Notice something? Librarians are, again, illustrated as people who put away books (or retrieve them). And honestly, having a robot do that work is great! It means that professionals don’t have to waste their time doing tasks like this but can actually focus on their duties, which is so much more than just reading and sorting books.
Preaching to the choir here. The point is: We need to be depicted accurately. For those interested, here’s a great article about what it takes to be a 21st Century Librarian:
“[...] In the digital age, when information is increasingly becoming available online, there is a propensity to say that libraries and librarians are redundant. This is not the case. Information available online is often of dubious origin and there is still a wealth of information behind paywalls that can only be accessed by those who have paid.”
And for those who have not yet realized it: We are fun to be with, and by no means wallflowers!
Although I haven’t worked at a correctional facility since 2010, correctional librarianship is still a topic I keep up with. When an acquaintance of mine came across my article on correctional librarianship and talked to me about it, I started to think about what would happen to the correctional system if Congress allows the sequestration to happen. And while some programs/groups are exempt from budget cuts, I have this nagging feeling that correctional facilities and programs won’t be among those.
The budget for prisons and jails is strained as it is.The International Centre for Prison Studies published the ninth edition of their World Prison Population List. This list establishes a prison population rate per 100,000 of national population, and serves therefore as an excellent tool to compare the United States with other countries.
Just to give you an idea of how busy our correctional system is, here are some numbers (rate per 100,000):
Even with the difference in culture, justice system and everything else that one could argue about, we still lock up an awful lot of people.
Reducing funds would severely harm the already overworked system and staff. I am not just talking about adequate security (staffing). Of course this should be the first and foremost concern, but it has not been uncommon for facilities to reduce their workforce to the absolute minimum, which does not exactly contribute to safety.
But what about all the programs that are available in jails/prisons? Adult Basic Education, GED, Substance Abuse and last but not least library services. What will happen to those? Slashing educational programs is so very short-sighted that I should actually write this in capital letters. Especially young people who get into the system have a heck of a time to get out again. And believe it or not, there are people who actually want to do better, but they don’t have a chance. Oftentimes the lack of education is the reason for jail-time, but if we don’t offer programs to the incarcerated, what will happen once they get out? … Right. They go straight back to what they were doing before. Early intervention (aka offering access to early childhood development and education programs) is our biggest ally in preventing this from happening in the first place.
Not every offender appreciates help, and some of them don’t want to change. But in order to make a difference in the long-term and reduce the number of people in jail, we need to at least give it a try.