Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Useful Things: Feed Me

When Hurricane Irene barreled through this weekend, The Boyfriend and I expected to lose power and cable. Imagine our shock when both continued to work. That did not stop us, however, from being lazy and feeling a craving for Chinese take out. We called up our usual place to discover that they were without power. Boo.

The desire for General Tso's did not diminish. Enter, Grub Hub. A quick Google search for "food delivery" directed me to this spectacular site. Just enter your address and food cravings, and Grub Hub spits out a list of local restaurants that deliver. Win!

While you can call all the restaurants on your list, many also allow you to order through the website itself. Grub Hub also integrates user reviews to help you make your selections. You can also create an account to track your previous orders, create a list of favorite restaurants, and share your reviews.

A quick phone call and we were back in business. Nom nom nom.

Monday, August 29, 2011

On the Job: Track Your Progress

I assume that most libraries these days conduct performance reviews of their employees and/or departments. If you're like me, when it comes to self-assessment, it's hard to remember what you've completed/done/achieved in the past year.

The year flies by, projects come and go, and so much "stuff" is written, read, and shared that your brain is all a jumble. I dislike self-assessments because it forces me to recall things and then I'm never sure if I'm remembering them correctly. Today's On the Job is advice I'm going to start following myself - track your progress.

If you know your organization conducts yearly self-assessment, never kid yourself into thinking you'll remember what you've done. The year is too long for that; the projects too many. Instead, every time you complete research, a project, milestone, goal, or other measurable thing write it down. Your documentation does not have to be complicated. It just serves as a reminder to yourself that this is what you did with a date of completion. That should be enough to jog your memory when it comes to writing your self-assement.

Tracking your work can be beneficial in other ways as well. A list of activities can show how you spend your time and if you need to change your work to focus on different priorities. If you track how you completed these activities, you may be able to discern how to streamline workflows and/or policies. In this age of technology, you might find that you have an argument for teleworking or flexible scheduling. When you track what you do (and why), you'll have a better understanding of your job, role in the organization, and where your time and energy go.

As a bonus, if you find yourself going beyond your job requirements or expectations, you will have documentation to support a request for a raise, title change, or other benefit increase. A little documentation never hurt anyone.

Friday, August 26, 2011

BOOLEAN: Friday Fashion Find - Who?

I'm asking for your forgiveness in advance. This BOOLEAN entry is self-indulgence.

BBC's Doctor Who returns tomorrow night. I. Am. EXCITED! This is a fabulous show, and I highly recommend it.

While I was rewatching the first half of the season, I noticed that Amy Pond (one of the main characters) is always wearing fabulous tights.

No pirate is complete with some pink.
Herringbone punch!

So, if you get the chance, watch Amy and her awesome BOOLEAN wear return to the screen tomorrow night on BBC America at 9pm. (Nope, I was not paid to say that. I just really love the show.)

Send your BOOLEAN pictures and links to BOOLEANgroup@gmail.com

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Variations on a Theme: Groundbreaking

I was at work when the DC earthquake struck. At first, the vibrations felt like one of the large trucks that makes deliveries to our loading dock. When it kept going, I asked everyone in the room, "Is the building shaking?" When they agreed, I said, "Must be an earthquake." I slid off my chair and rolled under my desk. When the earth stopped moving, I grabbed my keys and cell phone and left the building. Sadly, I left my lunch inside, so the aftershocks were caused by the rumbles in my tummy.

Our building sustained no damage, and only a few books fell to the floor in the stacks. All in all, I can now say that the earthquake was a wee bit fun.

A lucky side affect of the earthquake is that it gave me a great idea for this month's Variations on a Theme. The following books are all ground-breakers. These are the books that have sent ripples through history and society. Some of them caused immense change, and others spurred smaller movements, but they all had an impact on history.


The Communist ManifestoThe Communist Manifesto
Karl Marx and Frederich Engels

Marx and Engels's critique of capitalism and its deleterious effect on all aspects of life, from the increasing rift between the classes to the destruction of the nuclear family, has proven remarkably prescient. Their spectre, manifested in the Manifesto's vivid prose, continues to haunt the capitalist world, lingering as a ghostly apparition even after the collapse of those governments which claimed to be enacting its principles. [From Amazon.com]

The Prince (Dover Thrift Editions)The Prince
Niccolo Machiavelli

Classic guide to acquiring and maintaining political power is refreshing in its directness, yet often disturbing in its cold practicality. Starkly relevant to the political upheavals of the 20th century, this calculating prescription for power remains today, nearly 500 years after it was written, a timely and startling lesson in the practice of autocratic rule. [From Amazon.com]

The Origin of SpeciesThe Origin of Species
Charles Darwin

On December 27, 1831, the young naturalist Charles Darwin left Plymouth Harbor aboard the HMS Beagle. For the next five years, he conducted research on plants and animals from around the globe, amassing a body of evidence that would culminate in one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind—the theory of evolution. Darwin presented his stunning insights in a landmark book that forever altered the way human beings view themselves and the world they live in. In The Origin of Species, he convincingly demonstrates the fact of evolution: that existing animals and plants cannot have appeared separately but must have slowly transformed from ancestral creatures. Most important, the book fully explains the mechanism that effects such a transformation: natural selection, the idea that made evolution scientifically intelligible for the first time. [From Amazon.com]

Uncle Tom's Cabin (Barnes & Noble Classics)Uncle Tom's Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe

"Uncle Tom's Cabin is the story of the slave Tom. He is sold and sent south, where he endures brutal treatment at the hands of a degenerate plantation owner. As the novel that helped to move a nation to battle, Uncle Tom's Cabin is an essential part of the collective experience of the American people." [From Amazon.com]



Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence - Restored Modern EditionLady Chatterly's Lover
D.H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence finished "Lady Chatterley's Lover" in 1928, but it was not published in an uncensored version until 1960. Many contemporary critics of D.H. Lawrence viewed the Victorian love story as vulgar, and even pornographic. It was banned immediately upon publication in both the UK and the US. The obscenity trials which followed established legal precedents for literature which still endure. At the heart, "Lady Chatterley's Lover" is a story about the invisible bonds between lovers, companions, and husbands and wives. Against this backdrop, Lawrence also explores the relationship between physical desire and spiritual fulfillment, often using sensual and explicitly sexual language. [From Amazon.com]

The Feminine MystiqueThe Feminine MystiqueSearch Amazon.com for The Feminine Mystique
Betty Friedan

Landmark, groundbreaking, classic—these adjectives barely describe the earthshaking and long-lasting effects of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique. This is the book that defined "the problem that has no name," that launched the Second Wave of the feminist movement, and has been awakening women and men with its insights into social relations, which still remain fresh, ever since. [From Amazon.com]

Other Groundbreaking Titles:
1984 - George Orwell
City of God - St. Augustine
Common Sense - Thomas Paine
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare - William Shakespeare
Democracy in America - Alexis de Tocqueville
Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank
Mein Kampf - Adolf Hitler
Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy - Isaac Newton
The Republic - Plato
The Rights of Man - Thomas Paine
The Second Sex - Simone de Beauvoir
Silent Spring - Rachael Carson
Summa Theologica - St. Thomas Aquinas
The Wealth of Nations - Adam Smith

Links and Stuff: August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book 37: Her Every Pleasure

Her Every Pleasure: A NovelTITLE: Her Every Pleasure
AUTHOR: Gaelen Foley
STARTED: July 11, 2011
FINISHED: July 28, 2011
PAGES: 408
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: Thick woods crowded the lonely road as the royal carriage and its phalanx of armed outriders pounded on through the black autumn night.

SUMMARY: [From amazon.com] Princess Sophia was only a child when Napoleon conquered the island paradise ruled by her father. Raised in England and now twenty-one, she means to claim the throne that is rightfully hers and bring peace to her war-torn land. But an ambush by enemies forces Sophia into hiding outside London. Disguising herself as a peasant girl until she can safely return, she meets Major Gabriel Knight, a wounded warrior whose brush with death has utterly changed him.

Heir to a great fortune, and a master swordsman, Gabriel has given up his worldly possessions and laid down his arms. Sophia is fascinated by his brooding magnetism, and Gabriel, lured by her fiery beauty and healed by her touch, is drawn back inexorably toward the world of the living.

But when Sophia’s royal destiny is revealed, Gabriel knows he must take up his sword again, whatever the cost, to protect his princess from those who would destroy her. And as longing blossoms into passion, Gabriel discovers the one cause that is truly worth fighting for...


THOUGHTS: It took me almost three weeks to read this book because I just didn't care. That is never a good sign. Normally I love Foley's books, but this one was just "there" for me. I don't know if it was the book, me, or a combination of the two, but I could not like this story. Sophia felt stupid and spoiled, Gabriel was whipped, and the whole plot was a contrived mess.

I need my romance novel mojo back!

RATING: 4/10 [An "Okay" Book]

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

BOOLEAN: Mystical

I painted my toes this weekend! (I also got a new pair of BOOLEAN tights... but those are being hidden until the Fall tight season is here.) Until open toed shoe season disappears, I plan painting my feetsies in fun colors.

Last time it was a nice, vibrant blue. The current color: Mystical. It's a deep purple that reds maroonish in certain lights.

Feet are hard to photograph.
This is the color in the bottle.

Send your BOOLEAN (we're counting nail polish now) pictures and links to BOOLEANgroup@gmail.com

YouTube Tuesday: It all started when...



Need a well-done, brief overview of library history? Here ya go!

Book 36: Go the F**k to Sleep

Go the F**k to SleepTITLE: Go the F**k to Sleep
AUTHOR: Adam Mansbach
STARTED: July 14, 2011
FINISHED: July 14, 2011
PAGES: 32
GENRE: Humor

FIRST SENTENCE: The cats nestle close to their kittens, the lambs have laid down to sleep.

SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] Go the F**k to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don't always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate, and radically honest, California Book Award-winning author Adam Mansbach's verses perfectly capture the familiar--and unspoken--tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night. In the process, they open up a conversation about parenting, granting us permission to admit our frustrations, and laugh at their absurdity.

THOUGHTS: Cutely sarcastic. It was a nice way to kill 10  minutes in a Borders before the midnight release of Harry Potter.

RATING: 6/10 [Good]

Monday, August 22, 2011

On the Job: Welcome

The first staff member of my new project started today. To start this project off on the right foot, I tried my best to be welcoming. I asked about his recent vacation, we had a quick orientation meeting, and I told him to swing on by my desk at any time. (I also mention the candy bowl was open for business.) All of these little things can have a big pay-off when it comes to keeping an upbeat office atmosphere.

A warm smile, genuine interest, and concern for your new staff can go a long way to creating a comfortable work environment. If you are bringing on new staff (or just need to start out the day), it helps immensely to be welcoming.

It can be hard to transition to a new department, project, or organization if you feel unwanted or overlooked. Staff can feel uneasy in a negative environment. Everyone has their bad days, but those should be rare. As a manger or supervisor, you should always give off an inviting attitude. Your staff should feel comfortable coming to you for information, to offer recommendations, or just to chat.

Instead of putting up a stony facade, show your staff that you care about their work and well-being. Shut doors close off more than general office noise, they keep your staff out as well. And if you don't have doors, a facial expression that says "don't bug me" gives off the same impression.

Book 35: Deadline

Deadline (Newsflesh, Book 2)TITLE: Deadline
AUTHOR: Mira Grant
STARTED: June 22, 2011
FINISHED: July 9, 2011
PAGES: 624
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: I got another interview request yesterday from some brand-new baby blogger who's looking for a scoop and wants to know  how I'm "coping."

SUMMARY: [From Amazon.com] Shaun Mason is a man without a mission. Not even running the news organization he built with his sister has the same urgency as it used to. Playing with dead things just doesn't seem as fun when you've lost as much as he has.

But when a CDC researcher fakes her own death and appears on his doorstep with a ravenous pack of zombies in tow, Shaun has a newfound interest in life. Because she brings news-he may have put down the monster who attacked them, but the conspiracy is far from dead.

Now, Shaun hits the road to find what truth can be found at the end of a shotgun.

THOUGHTS: Oh this book ended in such a way as to drive me insane. That is to say CLIFFHANGER OF AWESOME PROPORTIONS! I cannot wait for the third book in this series to be release. 2012 why are you so far away?

The second book of the series picks up pretty soon after the end of the first. The characters (those who aren't dead) carry over into Deadline. So do the plot developments, discoveries, and (of course) the zombies. Much like the first book, this one feels just a real. There were a few scenes and plot developments that felt a little forced, but not enough to make me dislike the book as a whole.

In fact, there is one thing Deadline did way better than Feed: dramatic tension. In one instance, there were two chapters where nothing happens. It's eerie. You could feel the unease oozing off the page. Nothing happens and you're stuck waiting with the characters to figure out what just occurred. For those chapters alone, I would read this series again.

And, gah!, the ending. It was so unexpected that I actually shout out loud... and I was a passenger in a car... thank goodness The Boyfriend did not drive off the road.


RATING: 8/10