Monday, December 28, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Thus in late September, I took my vehicle, a Volkswagen Passat, to Midas for an oil change. Shortly after arrival, while waiting, I was advised that my cooling system needed flushing because its fluids were weak and there was "stuff" floating in it. What do I know? "Okay." And one hour later, $146 poorer, I take my car from Midas.
Scene shifts two months later. I take my car to the Volkswagen dealership for alignment. Why you might ask? Because they had a true service special. No, honest!
Shortly after arrival, while waiting, I was advised to come look at my cooling system. The service manager and technician pointed at brown stuff gelling in my coolant reservoir. "This is bad" they opine. "How bad?" I ask. "It isn't supposed to be brown", I'm told.
That morning I learned that automotive coolants come in colors; some green, some red, some blue and some, VW, even pink. I also learn that one should never, EVER mix them or very bad, very expensive things happen.
Two days and $3200 later, I pick up my vehicle and I call Midas. "Say, guys, do you recall what coolant you put into my car?" "Well," says the Midas technician, "it doesn't show on your invoice (I knew that) but I'm sure it was appropriate for your car." Gosh, if that doesn't give you confidence, what will?
Armed with research, some my own, some provided by the VW dealership, I again approach Midas. This time I speak with the regional manager: "Wow, if we're at fault, we'll pay for it." I'm stunned. "But it doesn't look like we are. We put in VW coolant so we don't know what happened." Well, boys and girls, I take a sample of the brown goo to Midas, directly from VW, and they say, sheepishly, "wow, that looks bad. But we need to send it to a lab."
And I think, "why? to bring it back to life?"
So, Midas can either be standup guys, admit their mistake and pay for the repair costs or ...
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Inexorably, these same folks will become older. As they age, and probably not gracefully, the bulging biceps now ringed by barbed wire will look like a young tree branch circled by a blue ribbon. Similarly, those dragons now posing menacingly on shoulders will take on the characteristics of geccos looking for bugs amidst the graying hair.
The solution? And this is all "patent pending": leeches!
As all know, or now will, leeches are used medicinally for micro surgery, especially burn victims where it is necessary to remove clots or blockages to the blood flow, enabling the new, healthy skin to grow.
These same blood sucking leeches, under a process now being patented and protected, will be trained to suck .... ink! Imagine, you realize that tattoo is passe' and go to a Leeches R Us franchise (more later) where you sit comfortably as the little critters move about absorbing that ink you paid so much for years ago. And, using scientific technology, the leeches will be increased in size so that advertising space will arise on their backs. So, as the customer sits there looking at the creature moving about, he or she will be subliminally motivated to buy products.
Did you know that leeches live for ten years? That they can go a year without feeding! The only thing standing between you and riches is your failure to invest now in Leeches R Us (pat. pend.) For a nominal investment (estimated at $50,000) you'll receive your own breed stock for your own leech herd. A couple of leech cowboys to handle the stock and you're on your way to riches: tens, hundreds and even tens of dollars!
More to come!
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
A customer returned a DVD episode of
Midsomer Murders, a British series featuring the, so described, unflappable Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby and Sergeant Troy in pursuit of crime and miscreants, solving ... duh .... murders. The customer noted that the disc was badly scratched and added "ending is still a mystery".
Our future remains bright.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Zoho. Word processing as done by Santa Claus, right? It looks like Word, feels like Word, so the question appears to be why hasn't Microsoft made Word available via the internet for collaborative writing?
As written about in a recent posting, on more than one blog, my son is experiencing real world difficulties with his first landlord. As he resides at some distance from me, assisting him in preparing written communication has been via e-mail with Word document attachments. This works but in order to review or edit, there's a time lag made necessary by the need to re-send the document . Zoho appears to make that disappear, allowing near simultaneous editing or revising. What Zoho does make necessary is for all parties concerned to have a Zoho account. Wonder if that's a marketing ploy?
From initial experience and usage, it seems to be a productive tool, allowing publication directly to a blog, such as this, without the need to cut and paste. It appears to be the equal of Word, if not gooder.
Ah, you say, "gooder" is not a word. Nor is it a version of Word. Nor is it a synonym for "better". What it is is a funner word to use. Ah, you say, "funner" .....
No, they're not proper words but as expressed succinctly in Through the Looking Glass, "`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.' `The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master - - that's all."
Today, I choose to be a benevolent and funner master.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Yet the speed of information alone is insufficient to make it useable. Listening and understanding to the information make it so. And those two skills are not new, indeed are very old, but absolutely necessary.
Ofttimes what we think we hear or read is not, in reality, what was said or printed. I have a minor affliction with dyslexia which rarely impedes serious reading but will on occasion create some startling headlines or signs. After all, who knew that the California Auto Association sells weasel tires?
In a serious, especially if heated, conversation, it is crucial to listen to what the other speaker actually said, as opposed to what was expected or anticipated to be heard. I am guilty of blithely opining against what I thought someone said only to feel silly (or worse) when they say that they agree with me, adding those four little words: "That's What I Said!" Oops.
Part of the impetus for this post is the return of books from those students doing research projects. I find it amusing to see that five books on New Jersey are returned by a student, as if the more books one puts in the bibliography, the better the grade. Hopefully this isn't true. The sheer amount of information represents only the opportunity to use it; in and of itself, it isn't important. A report using three books and an encyclopedia on forests may well be better written and more inciteful than another report that cites eleven books, three articles and a personal interview with a maple. OK, I made that last one up.
Progress is made when our ability to decipher, interpret and use data increases. That equals understanding and comprehension. Mounds of information are simply numbers or words.
"Your foot's gone prime"? "You're my sweetie pie"
Friday, May 8, 2009
As suggested, I've perused the writings upon Library 2.0 and note there is an obvious consensus that libraries will have to adapt to changing demands and, further, that such demands will change the look and form of libraries. How do they ever come up with such radical ideas?
Rick Anderson has authored a piece entitled Away From The Icebergs in which he points out three "icebergs" that libraries, and library systems, should steer away from. Mr. Anderson has presumably chosen these three from a lengthy list and provides sound reasons why they present dangers to the evolution of libraries. His essay seems written more because he was asked to write something than because this issue was important to him and I say this because he belabors the obvious. No one involved in the library arena would dispute that it is changing, both in form and in services (both provided and expected). Since we know this, shouldn't his (or anyone's) insight provide directions for growth instead of a generalization?
Mr. Anderson writes "At a minimum, this means placing library services and content in the user’s preferred environment (i.e., the Web); even better, it means integrating our services into their daily patterns of work, study and play." Perhaps it's just me but would not this evolution result in fewer positions; i.e., jobs and a de emphasis upon libraries as locations? If our "library" is on the web, why would it be necessary for a customer to travel anywhere? If it's on the web, where is the interaction between the customer and the staff member? Is the future of reference to be a call center located ... oh, say Sri Lanka? No, I don't think so.
Mr. Anderson asserts that "in my library, we’ve seen a 55 percent drop in circulation rates over the past twelve years." I concede that Mr. Anderson's essay is undated and may predate the current economic downturn but the circulation rates at the Sacramento Public Library have increased. People constrained in discretionary spending due to economic distress, are turning to free services. They are also seeking direction and directions in updating resumes, job searches, educational opportunities, community training courses, volunteer opportunities. Some of this may be done online but our customers want personal interface.
The library will change in response to technology and demands but there will always be the opportunity to instruct, direct, assist and learn.
And just in case that Microsoft does sponsor or run the library of the future, I offer this as a suggestion for those who may suffer social distress or, as part of the economic downturn, can no longer afford service.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
I daresay that there are fewer areas of interest more susceptible to the adage "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" than law. Most people at some time or another have had contact with our legal system or, worse, have watched a movie or television program about lawyers and thus have the equivalent of a degree. And based upon that equivalency, now drone on at great length about it; its procedures, its application, its inequities.
My son is now experiencing this phenomenon. In response to pressure from an apparently attractive female renter, his landlord is claiming that he has committed waste upon the rental property and has become a nuisance because of his failure to clean the bathroom. He is, understandably, upset about the matter, contending that this uproar is over a little hair in the drain and, perhaps, towels on the floor.
I have chosen to use this episode as a lesson in life and the law for him. First, this has little to do with whatever he has actually done; it has to do with the fact that the female renter wants additional space and privacy and is prevailing upon the landlord to yield to her desires. Supply and demand economics crosses many boundaries.
Equally important, it highlights the distinction between English as commonly used and the law's usage. A cursory review of Black's Law Dictionary will make such clear, in mind boggling detail. Waste and nuisance have specific legal meanings, apart from ordinary usage but this is usually lost upon those who throw such words around with reckless abandon. This brings up the question of those who are not devoid of "reck" but that will wait for a later analysis.
An act or the occasional person may be a nuisance but not such as to rise to the level of being legally actionable. For those bold, or foolish, enough to actually go forward and make such allegations within a courtroom, it is often a financial shock to discover the difference when their contentions are dismissed or disbelieved due to lack of legal evidence.
Where does all this fit within the library experience? The answer is often. Many customers come to the library because "they" told them that a specific form or document was available at the library. These customers know this to be true because their friend obtained this form at a library and won his/her case, had her/his criminal record expunged, received custody of his/her children, had her/his ticket dismissed, ad nauseum. When told that there is no such form or document or that such may apply only to another jurisdiction, customers will gaze with a "how did you ever get this job" look and repeat, this time louder, their specific requests. "Just go to this website", is often included in the litany of directions. When told there is no such website, the conversation usually goes downhill - despite serious efforts to assist those who have little to no idea what they really want.
The internet, and its world of information, is a pathway to knowledge. It is not magical and it requires the ability to discern its limitations as well as the skills to apply its teachings.
Friday, May 1, 2009
As I progress through 27 Things, this very thought has crossed my mind on several occasions. While the types and amount of information available for posting are mindboggling, not all of it truly needs to be publicised.
Part of this week's digital adventure is to explore Library Thing . As I am not a reference librarian nor do I play one on tv, I see this as more of a toy than a tool. Those I know who have explored this in more depth have found that it makes errors in its suggestions, ofttimes forgetting the aspect of age appropriateness. Such a recommendation could be embarrassing.
That said, the site does offer instant access to reviews and, like Amazon.com, suggestions for other items based upon "your" library. This I do like since I am far beyond age appropriateness. I discovered, and am now reading, a collection of short stories by one of my favorite authors - John Irving: Trying To Save Piggy Sneed.
What I discovered in cataloging my own collection is that I would have a very difficult time characterizing my reading interests. I routinely tell those who ask, a small number, thanks for asking, that my primary interest lies in the area of mysteries, yet mystery tales comprise a minority of my personal collection. I discovered that general fiction and non-fiction, historical if one should inquire (and no one has), make up the bulk.
Could I have discovered this without the insights gleaned from Library Thing? Only if I had looked. Would I have discovered this without the assignment which includes Library Thing? Probably not. Is this a good thing? Stay tuned.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
metal", should be "use a flashdrive, not a hard drive".
The Sacramento Public Library rolled out, literally, its Overdrive offerings of books, music and video via the travelling Overdrive semi at Franklin Library.
The Overdrive system allows users to download books, audio books, music and videos (to include popular television programs) onto their home computers and then onto MP3 devices, to include iPods. It's free, relatively simple and users do not have to worry about returning items as the files self delete after the set borrowing time. As a bonus, many of the items are no longer copyrighted, allowing borrowers to burn them onto CDs for their permanent collections.
Just another service of your 21st Century library.
But you still have to be quiet!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Perhaps bucking the trend, I remain unimpressed with the
phenomenon of RSS feeds. If I'm that busy that I can't visit the
websites I'm interested in, perhaps I could quit my day job and concentrate on those things that interest me. Like magazine subscriptions (which seem like a good idea when you fill out the card to mail in), they have the potential to snowball, causing an information overload that cannot be managed.
Or maybe, just maybe, it's just me.
Oh, and the sports scores? Just a service we provide.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
This was brought home to me Sunday afternoon as I was working in the yard. Since we live near the former Mather Air Force Base, it isn't unusual to hear a lot of aircraft of all sorts. The sound was a prop plane but louder than I normally hear. Thinking it might be the Coast Guard's C-130 that occasionally does flyovers, I waited to see it. But, no, what flew over was a B-17 Flying Fortress; the plane that won the war in Europe. The plane that destroyed the German war machine.
The B-17, crammed with a crew of nine and powered by four prop engines, is roughly about the same size as the current Air Force F-15/F-16 or Navy/Marine F-18, all single seat fighters. It had nominal radar, little armor, relied upon machine guns for defense and the only thing remotely stealthy about it was if it flew at night in a thunderstorm. But from 1942-45 it was, second only to its larger kin, the B-29, THE BOMBER.
And now? It provides rides and nostalgia. Much like the cell phones of the late 80s (except for the rides part).
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
A tearful, well thought out, edited missive expressing sympathy and support, while slower, beats the heck out of an e-mail "mom died. we're orphans." Granted the news is faster but gee!
Maybe it's that the need for speed (with apologies to Top Gun) outstrips the need for language and consideration, though I personally don't see the need. Texting begat twitter which will end, presumably, with simple dots or icons; perhaps a 21st century Morse Code? It is difficult to imagine shelves of books in the post-Twitter era; how long will it take to read 140 characters? Taken to extremes (which I'm wont to do), there shouldn't be any books since the author(s) will have tweeted the construction of the book all along and thus there's no point in printing it. Right?
At least the budget crunch will ease since library facilities will be able to be reduced to the size of a phone booth.
Maybe it's just a bad day! Cleveland 10, Yankees 2.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
That said, I question "whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the stings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or take up arms against a sea of troubles" or, in this case, lemons. Things, especially technological ones, don't always work as expected or when expected. I find that ranting and railing against the gods lets off steam but rarely does it fix the problem. The pace of technology seems to outstrip nearly everything else and, like Alice in Wonderland, you have to run simply to keep your place.
And it isn't just new technology. How often is one asked whether you want to download the latest version of a program? I can't remember the number either but we all know it's a lot. And what happens when we succumb to the temptation to see what version 8.45678 does over version 8.4567? It doesn't work or screws up the files we've already saved! If only software companies subscribed to the credo that if it ain't broken, don't fix it. But NOOOOOOOOOOO.
On the plus side, in Rhode Island, where I grew up (sorta), a summer staple is Del's Lemonade. It's found in virtually every restaurant and if you can't get there, there's always the Del's trucks, circling every neighborhood, providing lemons to get you through the heat and humidity of a Rhode Island summer. Thus, it isn't always a bad thing to have life, or the Del's guy, hand you lemons.
As for the Shakespearean quotes, I'm listening to Fool, Christopher Moore's latest opus and his take on King Lear.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
The theory is that folks have not brought materials back because they're overdue and those customers can't or don't want to pay for them. The emphasis should be on "theory". There may be some truth to that but I suspect the items don't come back because they've become invisible within the customer's sight. Once newly brought home, they're read or viewed but then ... nothing. Just another book/DVD/cd around the house.
As Gilles Ménage says "the reason why borrowed books are seldom returned, is that it is easier to retain books themselves than what is inside of them." There is truth to that.
Let us hope that in addition to the return of library items, library customers are revisited by appreciation for all that libraries freely provide and the desire to share those materials with others, foresaking their literary nightstands or endtables.
Friday, April 10, 2009
For example, I made it to middle age before I learned that there is Attila the Hun, the female one. Who knew? Further, that for a better grade, teachers like photos of Plato. The parable of a camel passing through the eye of a needle is exactly that: a parable. However, it's much more effective with photos of the camel passing through the needle and why don't we have them?
Libraries are more than an accumulation of published materials. It is that plus the human experiences that both made them and utilized them. While we cannot read nor listen to all of our catalog, our customers do and they report back to us. Listen to them and you'll be amazed at what you learn. Not everything is as stated but then again, you learn how gullible some people can be and how unobservent you can be.
A Japanese proverb states that aging begins when we stop learning. So far, not a day has gone by when I didn't end a shift learning something I didn't know when the shift started. At this rate, I'll live forever. Though I might learn otherwise.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Truthfully, what I am suggesting is a) feed your dog/cat/rabbit/baby more often and b) supervise the items we've lent to you such that they return to us in roughly the same condition. Apparently what I'm thinking places the word "roughly" in a position of prominence.
Oddly enough, despite the drool/food/etc left on our books, our keyboards, open to the same hordes, are relatively clean, as proven by a science fair entry from one of our juvenile patrons. Taking samples from shopping cart handles, gas station handles, the mouth of his dog, the bottom of his shoe and a keyboard, he proved, with Nobel aspirations, that our keyboards are cleaner than suspected and more so than the other locales. The loser? Bottom of his shoe but I'm convinced he sampled it before coming into the library.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Oddly, while customers will remark upon nearly any subject and ask for anything (no qualifiers here), no one noticed the clocks. What can be gleaned from that? Either no one cares what time it is or no one cares when the library ostensibly closes since it cannot (per their understanding) close without their desires being met.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Apparently the Elk Grove Unified School District didn't get the memo about the change of date for commencement of Daylight Savings Time. April 5th would have been the traditional start but as most of us, EGUSD aside, it began earlier. As a result, the clocks within Franklin are now, uniformly, an hour ahead. Only time will tell whether this yields a bonus with customers leaving at 7:00 instead of 8:00 p.m.