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!
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!
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!
I never thought I could be upset enough to actually become physically sick. But this morning’s radio debate on guns managed to achieve that.
I have heard plenty of arguments made by people who support gun-ownership, especially ownership of semi-automatic rifles:
“We need them for hunting.” -Wrong. If you consider yourself a real hunter, you don’t need a rifle to hunt down a deer.
“It’s our God-given right.” -Uhm … no.
“We need them to defend our families.” -Okay, I can understand this to a certain degree. But if somebody breaks into your house and starts shooting, you will not be able to reciprocate unless you carry the weapon with you all the time and have it under your pillow. Come to think of it … some people probably do that, which is just plain creepy.
But my absolute favorite argument is the following: We need guns so we can defend ourselves against the government in case a tyrant will take over.
Say that again? The same people that are so proud to be Americans, a citizen of the land of freedom and democracy and liberty somehow think that the government will be taken over by a tyrant … and they need their little petty weapons to defend themselves against that?
I am sorry, but that is absolutely stupid. Do these people really anticipate the government to come into their house at any minute and rip the guns out of their cold hands? If you believe that, then I suggest you take your guns and emigrate to a desolate place where nobody can tell you anything and you can be the ruler of your own kingdom. And the best of all: No entitlements and other welfare crap. Oh, wait … incidentally, the idiots that are against any type of social security are those that are too stupid or lazy to work and live off of benefits that they actually oppose. Go figure.
When will people who already (apparently) live in constant fear of being repressed by Uncle Sam start yelling for missile launchers and hand grenades? After all, your handgun won’t help you when the evil government marches into your house backed up by the military, tanks, rocket launchers and in general a whole bunch of stuff that makes your little Glock look like a pathetic toy. Oh, so that’s why you need to harbor semi-automatic rifles, just in case you have to march into Washington, DC and take the country back from the evil grasp of politics …
Wikipedia (along with a number of other sites) is planning to shut itself down for 24 hours this Wednesday as a protest against SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. SOPA (the Senate version is called PIPA, the Protect IP Act). As you might guess, the idea of the act is to stop piracy by making it possible to “blacklist” or shut down sites that host pirated content.
Critics–including a lot of major websites–say that the effect will instead be to cripple them, and cripple access to information in general, because the law would mean any site with anything on it that might possible be piracy could be shut down entirely (so, like one pirated video on YouTube would mean YouTube would disappear).
For more information about Wikipedia and other sites going dark on Wednesday:
Aileen’s winning entry to the question, “Why Should People Try Transit” was:
The obvious answer: It saves money, energy, the environment, and prevents backups on highways. For me though transit is part of my lifestyle. Born and raised in Germany I did not even have a car! Public transportation was everywhere. It’s stress-free. Finally you have time to read that book that has been on your table for weeks, or read the paper every morning in peace, or even take a cat nap. Last but not least: It’s fun! Look out of the window and day-dream while listening to your favorite music … when have you done that last? Or chat with other passengers … that tends to happen a lot, especially when there is something unexpected going on.
Aileen won two tickets to the Potomac Riverboat Company.
DASH received many great entries! Thank you to everyone for your participation in the contest and Try Transit Week!
This Sunday, ten years ago, I was not living in the US. I had an apartment with my then-boyfriend, and was watching TV that night. I saw a plane hit the Twin Towers, and I thought “Hm, I have never seen that movie before …”. I changed channels to see what else was on (I guess I was not in the mood for that type of movie …). The next channel showed the exact same thing. The same movie on two different stations? What an oddity. When I switched to the third channel, it dawned on me that what I saw was not a movie after all. I called my boyfriend downstairs and we both sat in front of the TV, staring, mouths agape. At that point I did not know anybody in the States. But I could not believe what was happening. I could not believe that the most powerful nation in the world was suddenly at war with a merciless enemy.
Now, ten years leater, I am here in Washington, DC, and I am trying to figure out how I feel about the 10th anniversary that is coming up on Sunday. Since I moved here I have talked to friends and how they experienced the horrid day in 2001. For me though the horror remains somewhat distant. And I hope that it will remain that way …
While reading the papers today, and all the stories about 9/11, I came across a small section in one paper (Express) that had really short stories of people that survived that day. One of them really touched me, and I realized that amidst a tragedy there can be a moment of light, no matter how small …
Mr Linderman’s story had a great impact on me, my current daily struggles and the way I view my life right now. It gave me hope that, one day, the light will break through the darkness again and dissolve the clouds surrounding my soul and heart.