Friday, April 28, 2006

I got in!! So, I'll be starting a certificate program for International Development Policy & Management next quarter. It's actually a good thing since it seems like there aren't many LIS classes offered this coming year that I want to take. So I can fill in the slack time with this great program.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

For a while there I thought I was learning how to say no, but that's just crazy-talk. There is just too much to do - responsibility-wise and fun-wise.

An update, in no particular order:

- had a mid term today. Wow. The last time a took a test in school was probably 5 years ago! I'm trying not to whine too much since all my siblings have regular tests and most of my friends in other grad programs have midterms and finals. It was kind of a weird experience. I hope I did well. I'm pretty sure I didn't bomb it, but afterwards I knew there were a few things I didn't get.

- I've got a group project coming up on Integrated Pest Management in libraries. We got stuck with the first presentation date, so that's in like two and a half weeks! But our goal is to make everyone have the creepy-crawlies by the time we're done. =) We've talked about getting plastic bugs to put out on the desks and have images of bugs crawling on our powerpoint. And I'm tracking down books that have been eaten by pests.

- my database class is insane with assignments due every class time and so much reading! And I don't know what it is with this reading, but I cannot stay awake and concentrate when I read this stuff. I can stay up till 1 am studying for a test, reading through notes, etc without feeling too tired. But if I start to do the readings for this class ... it's like I develop narcolepsy all of a sudden. The best bed-time reading material EVER.

- I should be finding out this week about the International Development certificate program. Yep, I applied. I'm not sure how much time this will add, probably a year. So we'll see - and I'll certainly post when I hear.

- And lastly, I nominated myself for a student committee. Can you believe it!? I've never served on a student committee or really considered it. I applied for the service committees "community liaison." So, I'll let you know about that too.

Well, I'm off to do some reading...zzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, April 14, 2006

One of my first assignments for my Storytelling class, other than telling stories (more on that later), was to write a poem. A poem!? Are you kidding me!? I thought I escaped that torture by choosing not to get a masters in poetry! But it wasn't as painful as I thought it was going to be. Mostly because I didn't worry about rhyming or rhythm or any of that nonsense; I just focused on the content. So, here it is:

Where I’m From

I’m from Birkenstocks, books, and teapots; and a basket of un-mated socks; from baklava and Christmas cookies; from sweet ripe blackberries and tart huckleberries – picked every summer.

I’m from thousands of brightly colored Legos scattered around the living room, my three siblings and I building castles and boats. “Has anyone seen a piece that looks like this?” My mom discovers a stray piece…in the middle of the night…in her bare feet. “Kids!”

I’m from sand in the bathroom, dirt from the garden, and pine needles in the carpet.
I’m from pansies and poppies, rosemary and nasturtiums – with leaves as big as dinner plates. I’m from bird feeders scattering seed all over the yard. And the cats often scattering the birds.

I’m from my grandpa, telling funny stories of growing up until tears are streaming down his face. And ours too. “Bean, beans the American fruit, the more you eat the more you toot!”
I’m from my grandma, making clam fritters from memory, after a long day of clamming.

I’m from Uncle Eldon and Aunt Betty, and from great grandmother Jayne, with poor eyesight, who once sat talking to a wooden Indian. I’m from great aunt Paula, great uncle Axel, and Inge and Arne in Denmark. So many relatives I never met, but who had such influence on me.

I’m from only one bathroom and five people getting ready for church. “We’re going to be late again.” “Shotgun!”
I’m from church potlucks and game night: Take Off, cards and Scrabble. Don’t know a word? “Look it up!”

I’m from fun and games, and “it’s not fair.” From all of this, and more.

That's probably the best poem I ever wrote. Can I be done with poems now?

Another class assignment, obviously, is to tell stories. I have to tell stories to three "audiences" each week. An audience has to be at least one person. Thanks to my roommate for listening to the story about why dogs hate cats.

Next I tracked down two little girls - a six year old and her younger sister. They were in a pretty wild mood but settled down enough to listen to two stories. The older girl guessed everything that was going to happen in the tailor story though! They wanted to hear more stories but I didn't have they told stories. Stories that they made up. That went on and on and had no point. And then they got more and more riled up. The older girl decided that we were buddies now which meant she could try to attack me and steal my glasses. Kids. I just don't get them sometimes.

Lastly I went to tell stories to the little girl in my house and her parents. She reacted much better. She listened well and joined in at her parts. And at the end she wrapped her arms around me and thanked me. It was very cute.

I get to learn two new stories tomorrow and will have to tell them next week. So if anyone wants a story, come on over...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

You need to create an Educational Information System for kids aged 8-16 in Bangladesh. You have a budget of $500,000. Go.

That's the gist of an assignment we got in class today. Wow, I was pretty excited about it! We actually have a guest professor - who is the professor for the other section of this class. I've been hearing the other class complain about this assignment since last week but when I heard the description I was a little sad I'd missed out! An information system for a developing country!? Come on - how cool is that!

And difficult too. When the assignment was given to us today it wasn't as official (won't be graded, etc). I think the professor chose these random countries (Sierra Leone, Somalia, Bangladesh, etc) because he didn't actually want us to know everything about the place and to 'solve' the problem easily. Of course in our group there is one guy who has lived in SE Asia for almost 10 years before coming to school, a girl from China, and me. Oh, I just happened to know about Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, an NGO in Bangladesh that uses boats to bring mobile libraries, schools, and internet-enabled computer labs to poor communities in a Northern Bangladesh watershed. =)

But even with the knowledge we did have, we didn't know everything. Does the religion and culture of the country allow girls to be educated, or only boys? Does the country have the infrastructure to support computers and internet access (do they have reliable electricity)? Should our 'information system' be book-based? The climate is very humid which can wreak havoc with paper and books and computer alike. Can we design a system to handle this? Will it be sustainable? Will our system run through an NGO, the government, or some school district? What does education look like in the first place? Should this be focused on a city, or out in the rural areas?

And the list goes on. This is the beginning of project development, a very complex process.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Love your library - and love your favorite authors! I ran across this article in The Morning News. A few quotes to pull you in:

Libraries are fundamental pieces of any community, as vital as sewers or snowplows or good pizza. Libraries are little holy lands with giant invisible tentacles of imagination that fly out the doors and plunge through the windows of the houses around them. Libraries are often the greatest thing that has ever happened to any child in any neighborhood in any country.

But! If you get a book out of the library, read it, and really love it, one good thing you can do for its writer and for yourself is go to a bookstore and buy a copy of his or her book. Because it will help that particular artist continue to put art out into the world.

So do what you want. But remember that while a book purchase isn’t necessarily food in a writer’s pantry, it is a message to a publisher that a writer matters, that you want to see more of her kinds of books out there in the world. And, in a capitalist market, whose primary goal is not to improve society but to maximize the wealth of the capitalist, that’s one of the most important messages you can send.

Read. Visit libraries. Love books. And consider buying them once in a while.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A lesson in googlebombing for all of you. First, go to Google and look up the phrase "miserable failure." (Failure will work as well.)

Wonder why that happens? It's called googlebombing!

Each search engine has an algorithm that ranks results, hopefully putting the best one first. Search engines can do this based on date (newest first) or by number (the pages with the most occurences of the word first) or other ways. Google's genius is ranking by popularity. I think part of this has to do with how many people click on a result in the results list and how long people stay at that site. But another big part is how many pages link to certain pages. The more pages that link to a particular site, the more relevant it must be and the higher it goes in the rankings.

So some of you may have blogs and you may have been hit by spam comments. I got hit by this last year. I had no idea why anyone would want to do this and thought they were just trying to sell a product. That was indeed the aim, but it was more sneaky than I realized. Some companies have 'robots' (little bits of code) that trawl through blogs and post their little blurb and a link to their website. The hope is that when Google goes through blogs indexing all the posts and comments, it will see all the links to this certain company and their site will show up higher in the search results for that particular product.

Back to miserable failure. Loads of people have put this phrase into their websites and used the phrase as a direct link to certain peoples' biographies or websites. So when Google trawls through reading anchor links it doesn't know that this is an incorrect or misleading link - it's just a computer after all!

So that's googlebombing and that's how it happens, more or less. Any questions class?
Quotes of the week - okay, so it's only been two days, but I've got quotes from both of my classes.

From the preservation class:

Rags Make Paper
Paper Makes Money
Money Makes Banks
Banks Make Loans
Loans Make Beggars
Beggars Make Rags

---Anon. English 19th C.

And from my information systems class, a direct quote from the professor:

"All search engines lie!"