I am strong, I am invincible, I am.. like a good cigar?

I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this before on my blog, but if you follow me on Instagram you would know that my latest obsession involves thumbing through periodicals from the late 60’s to mid-70’s and finding ads or news stories that stand out to me. Sometimes I take pictures and post them, sometimes I don’t, but mainly I do it because I find advertising so psychologically interesting. People who make ads literally get paid to get inside your head and make you want to buy things? How? Well, mainly sex, but there’s also hints of power, wealth, beauty, and excitement that are used to persuade. Most of the ads I find are for booze and cigarettes, which I find even more interesting as this kind of advertising I feel is much less prominent these days as we realized the health dangers associated with them.

Advertisements from popular magazines of this time period offer a peek into what America’s deepest desires were 50 years ago. Most of them seem similar to today, although I’m glad that in the last few decades we have moved a lot more towards equality and open mindedness. I’m not here to scrutinize these ads, or be mad about them and write scathing angry posts about the content. So if you get mad or fired up about the ad I am about to share, just know I am sharing this as an observer of today, 2017, who is indeed a strong independent female who does not condone sexism, racism, or any other kind of hate. When I see things like this, I try to see them from the perspective of knowing that even though we have a long way to go still, we have indeed come pretty far. You can’t change the past, but you can move forward from it and grow and that kind of progress can be inspiring.

Today I was thumbing through Newsweek, October 9, 1967. Now, at first I thought this was an article, but the look on the guys face is what really drew me in and made me want to read it. As I started reading, I realized that this is kind of a hybrid between and ad and a PSA from the Cigar Institute of America, which from a quick google either doesn’t exist anymore or has changed its name to “The Cigar Association of America” which is entirely possible. I also found that somebody on eBay is selling this exact ad that I am going to share with you for $4.99. I wonder if anybody will ever buy it, god I hope not.

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I don’t know if you can read the wording… So I will transcribe the ad here:

The facts of life for new cigar smokers

Finding the cigar meant for you is no different than finding the girl meant for you. It pays to shop around a little before you settle down.

After all, there are 15 million cigar smokers in this country. Do you think all of them hit it off with the first cigar they tried?

Cigars, like women, come in all shapes, sizes, and blends.

Try a slim cigar for a while. Then try a more curvaceous one. You and the cigar should look good together.

Then try different priced cigars. As with love, money won’t necessarily buy happiness. A truly satisfying cigar doesn’t have to be a costly cigar.

Go forth then, play the field.

The cigar you carry close to your heart is right around the corner.

A boon companion that will make the small search more than worthwhile.

A smoke that will comfort you when you’re feeling low, relax you when you are tense.

Cigars never argue with you. Never lose their shape. Do not pack up and go home to mother. And are not economically ruinous.

Of course, finding the right cigar isn’t quite as rewarding as finding the right woman.

But then again, what is?

(Cigar Institute of America, 1967)

Oh man. So many things wrong with that, first of all a curvaceous cigar? Is that even a thing? I suppose there are some positive aspects here if you dig for them. First of all women ARE NOT, repeat, NOT like cigars. Women are not rolled up tobacco that you smoke as a symbol of your manhood or riches, or to calm your nerves, or whatever. Anytime you compare a person to an object it immediately De-humanizes it, so there’s that. But, then it reminds you that money isn’t everything when it comes to love, OK that’s fine. THEN, wait what? A cigar will never lose its shape or run home to mother OR wait for it…. Be economically ruinous? Jesus, really? Yeah and a cigar will never be your intellectual, emotional, or sexual companion or teammate so there’s that. A cigar will never better you as a person or global citizen by adding a sense of emotional intimacy, connection, and love to your life. Have you tried talking with a cigar? They are rather boring and uneducated, and their taste in music sucks. I suppose you could stick one up your … and derive some pleasure from that. You can be a lonely sad weirdo with rectal cancer from years of shoving cigars in places you shouldn’t, but hey you will still have your MONEY. Finally, the ad closes with saying: but hey, women aren’t cigars, and finding a great one is really the best reward there is. But wait, even that is slightly backhanded isn’t it? Sigh, just another ad sitting away in an old magazine on a quiet and dusty fourth floor periodical shelf, but something to think about on this slow Sunday.

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Medieval thoughts…

Today I was doing some prep for a history instruction next Thursday and part of the instruction includes a library tour where I would show the class, generally, where to find the history books in the stacks as well as the reference section (for LCC that’s D-E-F) so easy enough. As I’m walking through trying to get a grasp of the natural progression I came across two very different but equally interesting books.

The first book I pulled is a true History style book called:  Life in Medieval Times by Majorie Rowling. I grabbed it partially because I was curious, and partially to make myself feel better about my own life as it is right now.

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The second book I grabbed is called: Put Your Best Foot Forward USA: A fearless guide to Understanding the United States of America by Mary Murray Bosrock. I couldn’t resist the dorky looking 90’s cartoon cover, and the urge to know how to better understand “basic” American Culture 20 years ago, written to inform people who may be visiting the USA.

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I had no idea what I was going to do with these. I did the flip open and try to find a passage, but nothing really worked. I flipped through the table of contents to see where and if there were any similar subjects and ended up with … Women. How different was it to be an American Woman in the late 90’s vs. a Woman in Medieval Europe? Let’s see…

Chapter 4 in Life in Medieval Times is entitled “Women and Wives”. Here are a few excerpts I found especially fun:

In the 14th century Goodman of Paris told his wife to “ copy the behavior of a dog who always has his eye and his heart upon his master; even if his master whip him and throw stones at him, the dog follows, wagging his tail…” (Rowling, 1979, p.72).

Doesn’t beating a dog eventually make him mean? I’m not sure, but I’m pretty happy that we aren’t being equated to dogs anymore.

In customary law in the 13th century a clause in the statues of a town in Glascony states: “All inhabitants of Villefranche have the right to beat their wives, provided they do not kill them thereby” (Rowling, 1979, p.72)

So there’s that….

As the chapter goes on let’s just say it doesn’t get much better. There are some sources in poetry and other writings that seem sympathetic to the causes of women, but overall it’s safe to say that women were just basically tools used by the men for their own gain at their own discretion. Which seems pretty dismal when you think about it. Most marriages were for monetary purposes and were arranged, but there were many accounts of happy ones as well. Marriage in the US today (even though mainly NOT arranged) probably fares no better than most unhappy some happy, but hey at least we get to make our own mistakes.

I’ve always wished that there was some sort of historical theme park like Westworld, not where you go to bang robots, but where you can go and actually experience what life was like back then down to what everybody smelled like. I wonder if this could be a thing for VR one day, but I digress.

Let’s take a peek at that USA “guide” book and see what it has to say about women in Chapter 21 named “Especially for Women” . It talks about how women make up half the workforce, the suffrage movements and other important events in women’s history. What I find the most interesting are the “tips” for working with women.

“Never call a woman dear or sweetie, or any similar terms in a business situation”

Well, that seems fair.

“The terms broad, dame, bird and chick are inappropriate in any situation”

Especially since it’s not 1950-something.

“Do not misinterpret American friendliness as a sexual invitation”

How friendly do some people get?

“Women do not consider it a compliment to be whistled at” (Bosrock, 1999, p. 244-5)

Yes, yes this is all pretty sound today. So what IS OK for men to do to women? The next section is called “chivalry” and lists these things as OK: Holding the door open, allowing women to enter or exit before you, walking ahead of a woman down stairs, walk next to a woman on the curb side of the street, remove your hat in their presence, rise when she leaves the room or a table, follow behind when walking down an aisle. (Bosrock, 1999)

I had an experience here at the U where I held a door open for a 18ish year old student that had his head down and his eyes glued on his phone. As he walked through the door that I held open for him he didn’t so much as look up to acknowledge my presence, or say thanks or anything at all. I yelled sarcastically at him like the sourpuss old lady that I am: “You’re welcome” but it’s not like he heard me since his ears were stuffed with earbuds. This was a bit shocking to me, as I found it to be so very rude that as I lady I held the door open for HIM and he didn’t even say thanks??? Some males of the generation right below me just don’t think about things like holding the door open for ladies or walking next to a curb to block a woman from traffic, they just weren’t taught these things. I only know this from casual observation I don’t mean to generalize but I do notice it walking around campus. Actually, it was kind of a show of equality that he didn’t think anything of a woman holding the door for him (still rude not to say thanks whatever gender you are) and today it is in no way thought of as weird for a woman to hold a door open for a dude, so really this lack of “chivalry” could be interpreted as a good thing. Chivalry may seem dead, but I’m even happier to report, so is the age of being treated like a dog or being beat (almost) to death by your husband and having it be totally legal.

 

Bosrock, M. (1999). USA: A Fearless Guide to Understanding the United States of America. St. Paul, MN: IES.

Rowling, M. (1979). Life in Medieval Times. New York: Perigee Books.

A poet from down under…

Here we are in the first week of the new semester, which means I’m back on Sundays. Which also means it’s slow as heck today and I’ve already finished prepping for my two classes I have next week for instruction. The one I was just working on is a Business Comm class where I was pre-researching Disneyland (Tokyo and Paris), McDonald’s in China, and Starbucks use of social media. After all of that I have a sudden strong urge to eat awful cheeseburgers, drink a vast amount of liquid sugar in the form of a Frappuccino, and haul tail over to the Magic Kingdom for a spin on Pirates. Of course I won’t be doing any of those things, but I am certainly NOT impervious to advertising and have been known to do things rather impulsively and regret them later so I had to stop.

So now, with my last hour here on my first Sunday back, I will resume the Sunday roulette. Today I decided to get crazy (watch out) and use the reference stacks, which I have never done before. After getting my random numbers I actually found myself in a section that I think I can work with. Today I Pulled Modern Women Writers: Volume 2 Falcon to Lynch from the library of literacy criticism. It’s big and boring looking since it’s a reference book, but here’s the spine for proof of my pick.

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The volume is, essentially, a list of modern women writers which has a short page or so entry for each person. The entries start with a general introduction of the writer, followed by a short description and criticism of some of their popular works. Today I opened up to an Australian poet named Gwen Harwood. Here’s her intro:

Those who study Australian poetry don’t agree on much, but they would all agree that Gwen Harwood is exceptionally adept at masking. Even those who have only read one or two of her poems know, of course, that she has written acrostics adroit enough not be recognized as such by the fragile skills of editors. A little more acquaintance teaches us that she has written under pen names such as “Miriam Stone” and “Francis Geyer,” poems that have excited many a talent spotter with the convictions that they have just discovered a coruscating new Austpoet (Robinson, 1996, pg. 277).

A couple things here. First, I feel like I am not familiar with any kind of Australian poets so this is exciting to be introduced to. Second, I don’t know some of these words so… acrostics= a poem or word puzzle / adroit= clever or skillful/ coruscating= flashing, sparkling or brilliant. There, now I know about a new market of poets I’ve never read, as well as some new vocab words. I like the fact that she uses pen names, and changes it up. Let me see if I can find some of her work to share.

Three of the poems mentioned in her bio are “The New Music”, “To A.D. Hope”, and something called an Eisenbart and Krote group, which I’m not quite totally sure of. We don’t have any of her books here at the U, but she is mentioned as a chapter in a larger book Nine Lives- “ch. Six Gwen Harwood takes on the poetry pundit”. I couldn’t find the poems they mentioned in Modern Women Writers but there are a couple found here at a site called poemhunter. “In the park” is written about often as one of her more well known poems, demonstrating Harwood’s interpretation of the struggle imposed upon some women in motherhood.

Well that’s it for today, I went ahead an ordered a copy of her collected works to catch up on this week. If you are into poetry, check Gwen Harwood (or Miriam Stone, or Francis Geyer) out at your local book depository. I performed a meme check and just so you know, there are memes out there about Gwen Harwood, probably made by somebody who wasn’t so excited about reading her in class.

GH

Robinson, L. S. (1996). Modern Women Writers: Falcón to Lynch (Vol. 2). New York: Continuum.

Sheridan, S. (2011). Nine lives: postwar women writers making their mark. Retrieved from http://0-ebookcentral.proquest.com.leopac.ulv.edu

Crush like it’s 1999

It’s Tuesday evening, and tonight in the tech center we are visited by the haunting drums of ancient Mexico. Yes, it’s the mall’s summer outdoor concert series featuring world music that takes place right outside the center’s thin windows. There’s chanting, a strong solid drum beat, and dancers with headdresses. The whole thing is quite hypnotizing and beautiful. I don’t know how the tech patrons really feel about it, but at least it’s drowning out the sound of RATT’s greatest hits, which the newest drifter addition to the tech center patronage is listening to loudly on cheap earphones in the front row. He does this really great thing where it takes him several minutes to settle into his computer, including banging the keyboard around, turning it upside down, lifting and lowering it on the base of the computer multiple times, shifting around his personal belongings in the small space, hanging his hat on different corners of the monitor. He’s actually listening to Iron Maiden right now while searching for telemarketing jobs on craigslist… Maybe he’s not as off as he seems….

Anyhow, I’ve been spinning my wheels so much on this job hunting spiel that I forgot to keep doing what I love to be doing, which is of course finding strange library books and talking about them. I was early to the public today so I went undercover as a patron with headphones on and cruised the stacks. Why have I never done this before in my four years here? I went up and down the adult fiction and non-fiction aisles just browsing like I had nowhere that I needed to be. Here at the public we have end caps where we turn some books cover facing out to “merchandise” or advertise them so that patrons may be more apt to check them out. We are told to put books with catchy covers, or relevant topics. So I was surprised to see this one from “The Need to Know Library” entitled: Everything You Need to Know about Dating and Relationships. It has a wonderful romantic stock photo from what looks like the early 90’s on the cover, and so many fun headings and pictures throughout, I had to pick it up and read it for myself.

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I’m no Casanova myself, so why not take in the ancient wisdom of this dating book while dating was still a real world thing and didn’t exist solely in some swiping app, or perverse supermarket of catchy profile names, bad pick-up lines, over flattering angles and cropped profile pics.

The first picture in the book says “Dating can be confusing and unsettling” (Hovanec, 2000).

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Well you got that right sister. Also, please note the amazing corded 90’s phone/answering machine. The one thing I have noted in non-fiction books is that the stock photos used are usually about a decade behind the release date, although there are many 90’s features, the book was actually released in 2000. Come to find though, 17 years later this caption is more relevant than ever.

The chapters include: To date or not to date? Crushes, flirts, and other scary things. Getting Started: making a date. What is a relationship, anyway? Dating smarts and safety. Getting serious: beyond dating. And finally, When it’s over: breaking up. So this book runs the gamut from dating start to finish.

Reading through it is the normal kinds of stuff, no means no, don’t get drunk or high on dates, communicate, and feel free to kiss on the first date if you feel comfortable with it. There are no rules! One of my favorite parts is when the author describes that moment, you know that moment when you undeniable have…. A CRUSH.

It always happens when you least expect it. There you are minding your own business, and you look up and see Him. Or maybe you’re hanging out with your friends and suddenly She walks by. Time stops, and the world around you fades away. That’s it—you have a crush. (Hovanec, 2000)

This book was for sure meant for a teenager about 20 years ago, the dramatic nature of the description of a crush says it all. Time stops, literally stops, the 14 year old girl in me is definitely enjoying this. I love finds like this, it allows you to take a peek into how much our culture and customs have changed in such a short period of time. If the people in this book only knew about bumble or tinder…..

Hovanec, E. (2000). Everything you need to know about: dating and relationships. New York: Rosen Publishing.

Listen and Sell

It’s summer time here at the U, so we have some time to breathe, and to enjoy the laid back atmosphere. This also means my schedule shifts, and no more Sundays until September.  I like having the Sundays off because it’s more aligned with normal people, but also because I get to brunch again with real humans at a place, not just making a large late breakfast and drinking champagne on a Wednesday by myself at home. I’ve been ignoring my roulette, and to some degree my self-appointed blogging duties for a while due to other projects (more on that coming soon). But that means I can just shift my roulette over to Friday and keep on it.

Today I chose a random book from our book sale here at the U. Sometimes professors or other people affiliated with the University will make large donations, and every now and then there are multiple copies of the same book. I looked over at the sale shelf and saw about 40 copies of a new book, so I had to go and see what it was all about.

The book for this week is called:

Masters of Sales: Secrets from Top Sales Professionals That Will Transform You into a World Class Salesperson by Ivan Misner and Don Morgan.

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I flipped through the book and noticed that each little section is written by different folks from the profession sharing lessons and advice, etc. I opened up randomly to this excerpt:

Earning the Right to Be Heard by Stuart Mitchell

Two of the strongest criticisms about salespeople are:

  1. They are only interested in selling me something
  2. They don’t really care about me

By contrast, I listen to my prospects and clients and win national sales awards year after year, while consistently doubling my sales targets. My claim to fame is that I actively listen to my prospects and clients. “Active listening” is like a bank account. The more active listening deposits you make, the more sales withdrawals you get. It works this way. When you listen to your prospects – AND THEY KNOW IT- they will, in return, listen to what you have to say about your product. This leads to more sales.  (Misner & Morgan, 2007, p.103)

I’ve always had a tough relationship with sales people, I always assume they are up to no good. I often avoid them when I see them approaching me at a mall, or try my very best to never have to change phone plans, or bank accounts or whatever.  I usually tell them what I need, but they don’t really help me with that. Often times I end in programs or plans that are more likely to help them hit their “numbers” while putting me in a less than ideal situation. Maybe I’m too much of a pushover; maybe I just give everybody the benefit of the doubt when I shouldn’t. I don’t know but me and the idea of sales have just never mixed. This isn’t a blanket statement; there are good sales people out there. I worked in real estate forever ago, and in the many loan officers I met there were actually a couple of decent ones, they were good at what they did, and looked out for their clients. I don’t know if the field has changed much, but these good seeds were pretty few and far between.  But what makes a salesperson “good”?  In business they usually see your numbers, not your client satisfaction, which may be where the trouble comes about. I wonder how much the world would change if instead of money/revenue/numbers/ products sold companies actually paid attention to customer satisfaction as the rating for sales people and made this the gauge for if they kept their jobs or got bonuses. How well people were treated by salespeople and companies in general would definitely change, for the better.

There will also be times in your life when you have to “sell” yourself. As much as this makes me cringe it’s true, there’s job interviews, writing resumes and cover letters, online dating, even friendship s sometimes begin with trying to convince somebody that you are indeed cool enough to hang out with. So maybe let’s take deeper look into this “active listening” and see what it’s really about and how it can be used to benefit a situation.

 

Here is one definition of it:

 

Active Listening: An approach to interpersonal communication that requires sensitivity and open-mindedness on the part of the listener and a willingness to share information and opinions on the part of the speaker. Listening actively allows the one who is hearing to comprehend the underlying message beneath the content of the words voiced, to evaluate fairly the speaker, and to reconsider previously held attitudes. Being heard in a nonjudgmental manner gives the speaker the confidence for self-expression without fear of criticism or intimidation and a sense that what he or she has to say is of value. Active listening has been used successfully in the workplace and in other social settings, as well as in health and mental health practice, to bring about changes for the better in both the listener and the speaker. Learning the art of active listening takes practice. (Sullivan, 2009)

 

So basically, it’s allowing the person speaking to say what they need to say without judgment in an open minded setting. One of the interesting parts of this definition it says active listening allows the listener to find the underlying message in the words of the speaker.  When I hear underlying I think of reading between the lines, so it feels to me like a way to decipher something and get a meaning that may lie deeper than the surface.  Maybe somebody says “I want dessert, and I really haven’t had ice cream in so long” you could actively listen and get that person some ice cream. Even though they didn’t say, “hey I want ice cream, can you get me some?” This allows you to understand what they are trying to get across on a deeper level. That may be a really bad example, but I kind of want ice cream right now so, sorry, but you get the point. I could see how this could be useful in many aspects of life, business, friendships, and most definitely romantic relationships.

 

I meet with a group of women each month, where we practice active listening with one another, and the way she describes it is like the speaker is a rock being dropped into the water. Her words are like ripples in the pond. Let her say her truth, and sit silently, absorb it, don’t respond to it or say, “yes I agree” or “me too” because that lessens the value of the words being said, also, if you are busy trying to formulate a response then you aren’t really listening. You lose what the person is saying because you are somewhere else in your own head formulating a comment. Once the ripples are gone, a few moments of silence, and another woman can start in. I don’t practice this enough to say that its life changing, but I should more often. As the definition says it takes practice. As much as I don’t like sales people I’ve also never liked to listen to others so this post is all about those hard things. I do feel the excerpt is pitchy and  sounds like it’s written by a salesperson, there is much value to what is being said there. I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest of this book, but if you are interested, consult your local library. Or, just come here we have like 40 copies for .50 cents each.

 

 

Misner, I. & Morgan, D. (2007). Masters of Sales: secrets from top sales professionals that will transform you into a world class sales person. New York; Entrepreneur Press.

 

Sullivan, L. E. (2009). Active listening. In The SAGE glossary of the social and behavioral sciences (Vol. 3, pp. 6-6). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781412972024.n33

 

A Bee in One’s Bonnet

It’s Friday, it’s spring break. Not much happening around these parts today, and there hasn’t been since Wednesday. I a lot of copy cataloging done for the special collections, and worked with the archivist to clean up our digital collections landing page. I almost blew the building up yesterday trying to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator which was interesting. But, I got by with a little help from my friends, and ended up making a pretty cool new header for our online stuff. All was not lost, but today it’s hard to feel motivated. Cataloging is fun, but it’s an ongoing job, it’s never going to be finished. Sometimes that gets me down. I’m never going to get through all the piles, it’s impossible there’s always more books, more information. I guess in another way that makes me happy that the flow of information, knowledge and entertainment is so abundant.

The upside of all this weeks working is that I have a weekend off. What? A whole weekend? A Saturday AND Sunday like the rest of them? Yes. So I’m here doing my roulette early and to wish everybody a happy St. Patty’s Day. Since the weather in So Cal has been so nice, I decided to celebrate a little early last night, and go drink beers on outside patios. This could be what is contributing to my overall resistance to be enthusiastic this morning, but I think I will start to perk up in an hour or so. I have given myself the assignment of finishing my coffee and drinking a gigantic bottle of electrolyte water by the time 11:30 rolls around, it’s doable.

As I was grumping along towards my office this morning, I found a book that jumped out at me ever so sarcastically from the reference shelf. It’s called: Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries: And Other Delicious Sayings by Anne Beltran.

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Here’s the sayings I opened up to today:

The proof is in the pudding. You cannot be sure that you have succeeded until you examine the result of your efforts.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. People often mean well but do bad things. (Can be a strong rebuke implying the person you are addressing did something bad and his or her good intentions do not matter).

The rotten apple spoils the barrel. A bad person influences everyone he or she comes into contact with, making them bad too. (Also the cliché a rotten apple, a person who is corrupting others.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. People cannot do what they know they ought to do; people are not always physically capable of doing what they are willing to do. (Biblical).

(Beltran, 1997, p. 206-7)

What are these sayings really? Advice, warnings, and casual conversational phrases we use to describe situations that we all face in life? There is something about saying things in such a way that resonates with us. As humans, we don’t always point blank say what we mean, and I think the reason is that the story or real life example that we attach to it may help us understand the lesson that the words are trying to say to us on a deeper level. For me, it’s something in the visualization of it, and how I relate it to things I’ve known in my various experiences. I actually really like the proof is in the pudding and use it quite often even though it may be a little antiquated. I don’t eat pudding on the regular, nor do I think making it is some enormous feat that would warrant a sense of accomplishment that you indeed could do something amazing as mixing water with some powder and letting it sit in the bowl in the fridge for two hours. But it makes sense to me. Like hey, you can say all this crap, and act like the actions you are taking mean something, but the results are what really matters. The results are where the truth lies. So stop talking about it and be about it, make sure your pudding is full of proof.

Of course the road to hell one is pretty common too. It reminds us that “intention” is not really what matters, it’s where the deed or action ends up that makes the difference. Like the time I meant to save a bee that was trapped in my house, but ended up ripping off one of his legs, and probably ultimately being the cause of his death in the process. I wanted to get him outside and back to his happy bee life, but I really was the major contributing factor in his death (I still feel guilty about it months later). But does the fact that I MEANT to help matter, nope? The bee is still dead.

Sorry bee, I really am.

So what’s your favorite saying? Is there one that you use often, just one that comes to mind that makes you laugh or reminds you of a situation you are facing in your life? Say it to somebody today, see if they understand what the heck you mean by it.

Bertram, A. (1997). Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries: And Other Delicious Sayings. Lincolnwood, IL; NTC Publishing Group.

Robo Trumble

It’s the Saturday before spring break week, and despite some sort of Pan American Debate thing going on here, there’s not much happening here today. We are closed tomorrow, so I finally after 10 days get a day off, and a Sunday at that. Sunday Funday this week will probably consist of me binging on food and Netflix in bed, but isn’t that what Sundays are for? I haven’t done my roulette in a while, it’s actually pretty difficult to do sometimes, and I feel like the last couple ones have been especially so topic wise. Today I’m feeling like it could be a bit more fun. After getting my random numbers I found myself poking around the math/computer area and found a gem from 1982. There’s nothing like seeing old technology books, twenty five years ago technology wise seems almost more like one hundred years, but there is something nostalgic and endearing about these old books. Today I picked: Computers That Think? The Search for Artificial Intelligence by Margaret D. Hyde.

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And just because I opened up to such an awesome picture I’ll post that below the excerpt. The section I opened up to reads:

The word “robot” did not come into popular use until the early 1920’s with the appearance of a play called R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) in which artificial zombie-like creatures took over the world. Although there are many definitions of robots today, they are generally described as creatures, or machines that function under their own power and control. (Hyde, 1982, p.52)

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So, according to this book we now know how the word robot came into the vernacular. The writer Karel Capek was a Czech writer who mainly wrote science fiction stuff including R.U.R. and War With The Newts. R.U.R. deals with robots so real they are often mistaken for humans and can think and act on their own. The usual A.I. plot twist occurs in which the robots that were made to serve, rebel, and well we know that never ends well. Or does it? I don’t know in this case I’ve never heard of the play so you may have to find out for yourself.

Project Gutenberg has all the info, including full text of the script here if you want to indulge in some sci-fi drama and get all the details.

The idea of artificial intelligence and robots are a hot topic in the science fiction genre, and have been for a long time. I just recently got absorbed into this while watching Westworld, which I think I already blogged about so I won’t get too deep into that again. On one hand I like to think that it would be impossible to fool me and that there will never be a robot built so realistic that I couldn’t tell that it wasn’t human. But on the other hand I am not even sure if I could do the Pepsi Challenge and make it through. I think the fascination in all of this is that with artificial intelligence we are trying to create something that can make its own choices, and develop emotions and logic, but also something that we can control, which seems pretty impossible. I’m not entirely comfortable with it, I don’t even really think that roombas are that helpful, but that’s just me. I think that the less it looks like a human the better, those mechanical arms at the factories don’t bug me as much as something that looks like me, the discernable difference between those two types of robots is comforting. It’s a big argument, why even toy with artificial intelligence, what can we gain by creating something as close to human as possible?

Well anyways, it’s a debate for sure. But at least we learned one thing for the day, and that is how the word “robot” came about.

The whole thing reminds me of a song I once heard….

 

Hyde, M. (1982). Computers That Think? The Search for Artificial Intelligence. Hillside, New Jersey: Enslow Publishers.

Whiskey Rebels

It’s hopping here at the U on a Sunday. I guess it’s that time in the semester when the undergrads are starting to collect their sources for senior thesis projects. I think I’m still getting used to the ebb and flow of when the busy times are here,  but there’s so many programs, Master’s, PHD, traditional undergrad, and adult programs are all on different schedules.

I just literally spent over an hour trying to help a kinesiology student find studies about preoperative rehabilitation’s effects on postoperative outcomes of ACL surgery. Even after an hour we were only up to 4 solid ones. Sometimes people are looking for only a very specific type of article like there’s going to be a plethora of articles written on exactly what they want, and it’s just not the case. You have to pull your subject apart, look for other angles at some point.  It also makes me question my role sometimes as a research librarian at times. So you need a list of 15 articles, I can give you tips and pointers of where to look, how to look, and help with keywords, but I can’t produce a list of exactly the number of articles you need and hand it to you. It’s just not reality. I do love to help, and provide information, but there does come a point where I can’t do much more and the digging must be done by the student. The point of the educational process is for the student to research, and I get that, but also these topics can be frustrating, and you don’t want to turn people away without an information need filled. AH it’s a struggle. Maybe it’s also a pride thing, like dang, if I can’t find X amount of articles on the topic then maybe there’s something wrong with my searching skills. I don’t think so, but….

I digress.

So I got my numbers today, 2, 6, 19, Right. This led me straight to the substance abuse section. Yay! Who doesn’t love a good book about addiction, and more specifically so about a major poison of choice that I know all too well, Alcohol!

Today I pulled the book: Drink: A Social History of America by Andrew Barr.

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Flipped open to a random paragraph and here we go:

The impossibility of incorporating the Scotch-Irish notion of “natural liberty” within the federal system was demonstrated when, at the instigation of Alexander Hamilton, the secretary of the treasury, Congress voted in 1791 to impose an excise duty on domestically produced spirits. The following year a group of western Pennsylvanians petitioned to congress to repeal the tax. “To us,” they argued, “that act appears unequal in its operation and immoral in its effects. Unequal in its operation, as a duty laid on the common drink of a nation, instead of taxing the citizens in proportion to their property, falls as heavy on the poorest class as on the rich; immoral in its effect, because the amount of duty resting on the oath of the prayer, offers, at the expense of the honest part of the community, a premium to perjury and fraud.” (Barr, 1999, p.320)

In what could have appeared to be a somewhat exciting book (based on the cover and topic) I have managed to pick one of the most boring paragraphs in it. I get it, putting an excise tax on spirits would make it harder for the average man to get his booze on than a man of higher means. Booze, as referred to here is called the “common drink of a nation” both rich man and poor man have spent nights way longer than they should belly up at the bar with no regard to tomorrow, but man tomorrow when it does come also rewards both rich and poor the same way, with a hangover. If we must find something in common then, let it be our love of booze. That kind of makes me laugh a bit.

What I don’t know about is this instigation of Hamilton in 1791. (I do wonder if I would have seen the musical if I would know more, but something tells me probably not). It appears that Mr. Hamilton suggested this excise tax on spirits to congress, and it passed.

This was something called the 1791 Excise Whiskey Tax. Here’s the info from the historical site of the House of Representatives:

After a spirited debate, the House passed, by a 35 to 21 majority, the Excise Whiskey Tax—legislation that proved wildly unpopular with farmers and eventually precipitated the “Whiskey Rebellion.” The measure levied a federal tax on domestic and imported alcohol, earmarked to offset a portion of the federal government’s recent assumption of state debts. Southern and western farmers, whose grain crop was a chief ingredient in whiskey, loudly protested the tax. In 1794, farmers in western Pennsylvania attacked federal officials seeking to collect tax on the grain they had distilled into whiskey. The administration of President George Washington dispatched a force of nearly 13,000 militia to put down a feared revolt. Resistance, however, dissipated when the troops arrived. (The 1791 Excise Whiskey Tax, 2017.)

I see now how this caused a ripple effect in society down to the farmers who produced the grain to go into the Whiskey. The “Whisky Rebellion” sounds like something I do to myself when I go out and have a couple stiff ones and think I can rebel against bedtime and the fact that I have work the next day. Now I have to chase the rebellion, see what that’s all about, and see if they got any farther than the farmers who backed down against the militia, or if that’ is just part of the rebellion.

It looks like that last part with the people backing down was only the second part of the story.

Enforcement legislation touched off what appeared to be an organized rebellion, and in July of 1794 about 500 armed men attacked and burned the home of the regional tax inspector after a smaller group had been fended off the previous day. The following month Pres. George Washington issued a congressionally authorized proclamation ordering the rebels to return home and calling for militia from Pennsylvania and three neighbouring states. After fruitless negotiations with the 15-member committee representing the rebels Washington ordered some 13,000 troops into the area, but the opposition melted away and no battle ensued. Troops occupied the region and some of the rebels were tried, but the two convicted of treason were later pardoned by the president. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2017).

What was really important historically here I suppose is that the American government squashed the rebellion. But it could also go to show you, don’t mess with people’s booze and their god given right to drink it. Anyhow, our country really isn’t that old when you think about it, and the fact that this only happened 226 years ago kind of puts that into perspective. I was hoping that drunk history had done this as a skit so I could link it, but I couldn’t find it so maybe that could be for another episode.

If you are interested in reading more about the Whiskey Rebellion and all those involved, I did find this in my diggings. I would read it myself if my list weren’t 1,435 books long.

The Whiskey Rebellion: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Frontier Rebels who Challenged America’s Newfound Sovereignty.  By William Hogeland

The publisher describes it as: “A gripping and sensational tale of violence, alcohol, and taxes, The Whiskey Rebellion uncovers the radical eighteenth-century people’s movement, long ignored by historians, that contributed decisively to the establishment of federal authority”

Until next time… have a glass of Whiskey for these brave rebels, who ultimately failed. But hey, at least they tried.

 

 

Barr, M. (1999). Drink: A Social History of America. New York, NY; Carroll & Graff Publishers, Inc.

The 1791 Excise Whiskey Tax. (2017). Retrieved from: http://history.house.gov/HistoricalHighlight/Detail/35785

Whiskey Rebellion. (2017). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://0-academic.eb.com.leopac.ulv.edu/levels/collegiate/article/Whiskey-Rebellion/76786

 

4.6 Billion Years Ago..

My random numbers today were 3, 8, 12 and direction R. It’s usually floor 3 or 1, which is fine, because that is where most of our stacks are.  I’m always kind of silently hoping somebody will send me to 4 since that is we have all of our old periodicals, and those are really fun. So it’s up the stairs over and around and I find myself smack dab in the middle of… Brace yourselves… The geology section?

I’m starting to realize more and more as I do this that I actually know very little about many things. But I guess that is why we have libraries, and available information. There were so many small pamphlets and reports, I did see a title called Geology for non-geologists (which in retrospect I should have grabbed) but something else ultimately caught my eye.

Today I have picked: Meditations at 10,000 Feet: A Scientist in the Mountains. By James S. Trefil.

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Yes, I picked it solely because it had the word meditation in the title, although I think it’s used in a different way than I thought it would be. I did my random flip through and landed on this passage:

All the other radiometric dating techniques follow the same principle, although they don’t all use exactly the same logical sequence to arrive at an answer. All, however, share certain limitations. In the first place, it is essential to the accuracy of the method that none of the product nuclei escape. Argon, as we have noted, is a gas, so if a rock is heated in the normal course of the geological cycle, some of the argon may be driven off. In effect, such an event resets the geological clock. When the rock is analyzed, the date determined by the radiometric techniques will be that of the heating even, not the formation of the rock. Sometimes this problem can be dealt with by analyzing an entire rock rather than just certain minerals in it, since the decay nuclei may well be in the rock even when they’re no longer locked into the mineral structure. This sort of error leads to an age that is too small; it always underestimates the true age. (Trefil, 1986, p.109)

So he’s discussing one of the pitfalls of radiometric dating for rocks? I think? I have no idea what radiometric dating consists of, I have a feeling it has changed since 1986, but let’s look shall we?

Radiometric dating became a possibility with Becquerel’s discovery in 1896 of natural radioactivity. Rutherford postulated that radioactivity could be used to determine the age of the Earth. His and Soddy’s discovery (1902) of the transmutation of the atom became the basis for understanding exponential decay and the evolution of decay products (“daughter” elements). Age estimates for the Earth that had been determined by rate of heat loss (Lord Kelvin) now had to make allowances for the heat energy associated with radioactive decay. Thus, scholars were able to argue for great antiquity of the rocks on Earth. It was really with the advent of data collection technologies after World War II that the radiometric dating field began to develop with rapidity.

Radiometric dating must be viewed as having two forms: (1) techniques that rely on the decay of an isotope of an element, the production and decay of daughter decay products (radiocarbon dating, potassium-argon, argon-argon, and uranium-lead, uranium series) and (2) the techniques that rely on the crystal damage that is generated by the ionizing radiation generated by the decay of radioactive elements (thermoluminescence, electron spin resonance, and fission track) (Pavish, 2006.)

So without the big words, it’s a fancy way of telling how old the rocks on the earth are by the amount of the decay of the elements inside that rock. I’m going to assume the excerpt is talking about argon-argon series of dating, but I really can’t be sure really.

So why is it important to date the rocks on the earth? Does it matter how long we have been around? (I mean not US, but the actual floating sphere in space that we reside on) Sure it does. Well I think it does, but for me I see this post as something more philosophical than scientific because, well I guess I’m just more right brained. I did a quick google search “Why do we need to know how old the earth is?” and really all I’m getting is How do we know how old the earth is? I went through about 10 pages of this and saw no why.

I guess maybe it’s implied that more knowledge is better. To figure things out scientifically is what makes us advanced as humans. There is an innate need to figure out the world and universe around us and how it works. The two most famous ways are faith and science, and by nature seem to conflict. What’s funny is as I’m sifting through the basic google results a lot of biblical stuff is coming up. Maybe the purpose of radiometric dating is to scientifically refute the bible, or at least point out the loopholes in its plots. I’m also seeing a lot of weird political stuff out there too. Man the internet really is full of lots and lots of opinions.

I’m going to assume most of the literature published on the subject of radiometric dating may use lots of jargon and ideas that may be a bit over my head and would take far too long to decipher and explain than we have in our short period of time here. A quick easy search of “radiometric dating” AND accuracy AND rocks actually only afforded me one hit, the Funk & Wagnall’s New World Encyclopedia, this should be more readable, oh and it gives a general reason too. That’s good.

Dating Methods, in earth science, methods used to date the age of rocks and minerals. By applying this information, geologists are able to decipher the 4.6-billion-year history of the earth. The events of the geologic past—uplift of mountain ranges, opening and closing of seas, flooding of continental interiors, changes in climate—are all recorded in the strata of the earth’s crust (Funk & Wagnall’s, 2016).

Scientific dating methods prove that the rocks and minerals found on the earth range back to 4.6 billion years ago. They can also track geological events such as flooding, mountain range shifts and climate changes. This is important. It’s nice to be able to track a history of something, and I see how it’s beneficial for the future to know these things.  I can’t help but think of how different things have become today with all the awful stuff we do to the planet and it’s atmosphere and ecosystems with the products, waste and emissions we have as humans. I know that recycling has become big in the course of my life, that’s a step. Now public transport is gaining speed, as well as re-using things to reduce waste. I try as much as I can to reduce my footprint and I feel like many people are doing the same which is a great step too. I mean do you ever really think of where all your trash goes? What that looks like? The amount of square feet or acres of just pure trash that you throw out in your one little life? I often think of this when I’m cataloging DVDs. There’s a box, then plastic shrink-wrap, then a sticker, then like 5 pieces of paper for ads inside. (So much that’s doing so little).

According to Nat Geo:

Americans generated 251 million tons of trash in 2006, the most recent year for which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has data. Our per capita trash disposal rate was 4.6 pounds per person, per day. Sixty-five percent came from residences, while 35 percent came from schools and commercial locations such as hospitals and businesses. (National Geographic, 2017).

The EPA has it at about the same, give or take. Look at that jump from 1980 to 2000. I wonder what the deal is there. I want to say at LEAST we are kind of leveling off, it would be nice to see it go down, but taking population growth into consideration it doesn’t seem like we are spiraling.

statistic_id186256_us-municipal-solid-waste-generation-1960-2014

I can’t even fathom how long 4.6 billion years is, nobody can. But I think it’s safe to say that the earth is something that is much older and wiser than us as humans. So we better respect it. From scientific jargon, to philosophical ranting, to standing up for environmental causes. Another Sunday, another random library book.

Dating Methods. (2016). Funk & Wagnall’s New World Encyclopedia, 1p. 1.

Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). U.S. municipal solid waste generation from 1960 to 2014 (in million tons). In Statista – The Statistics Portal. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/186256/us-municipal-solid-waste-generation-since-1960/.

Kulpinski, D. (2017). Where does it all go? Retrieved from: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/human-footprint/trash-talk.html

Pavlish, L. (2006). Dating techniques, radiometric. In H. J. Birx (Ed.), Encyclopedia of anthropology (Vol. 5, pp. 707-707). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi: 10.4135/9781412952453.n238

Crucibles

It’s Sunday, and I have about an hour left here at the library. I figured it would be a good time for roulette, yay! Today I found a book on our book sale cart that stood out to me so hard that I just had to use it for this purpose. It’s called Geeks & Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders by Warren G. Bennis and Robert J. Thomas. Mind you the spine just said Geeks & Geezers and this is what caught my eye in the first place.

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Open up at random to page 98 and here’s the random paragraph:

The difference between fasting and starving

Crucibles vary in duration (and in anticipated duration), in harshness and in other ways. But there are two basic types: the ones you seek and the ones that find you. There is a world of difference between the two-the difference between jumping into an abyss and being pushed in, between fasting and starving, between emigration and exile. Some of our leaders had their crucibles forced upon them- Sidney Rittenberg’s sixteen-year imprisonment may be the cruelest example. The majority of our leaders chose their crucibles, although rarely with a full understanding of what the experience may bring. Some, such as Arthur Levitt Jr. became seekers of crucibles, constantly looking for the kind of challenges that would stretch them (Bennis & Thomas, 2002, p. 98).

Ok that’s kind of an interesting thought. Think about the things you seek out in life and also the things that just happen to find you. Which do you think are more powerful? I like the example of the idea of being pushed into an abyss vs. jumping. Sometimes in life we meet challenging people can be stuck with difficult attitudes and situations that we have no control over, but sometimes we CHOOSE that challenge. Why ? I don’t know, maybe because it makes us stronger people, better people, something along those lines. The idea of leadership itself has always intrigued me, the power to persuade, for good or evil, all of those things.

But what do they mean by crucible? Sadly I don’t know what that word even means. Just from the context I’m going to think some sort of event, or person, or action that brings about a situation that has to be solved or dealt with. I know that there is a play called the Crucible by Arthur Miller, but I have not the slightest clue what it’s about. Let’s define:

cru·ci·ble

ˈkro͞osəb(ə)l/

noun

noun: crucible; plural noun: crucibles

  1. a ceramic or metal container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures.

“the crucible tipped and the mold filled with liquid metal”

  1. a situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new.

“their relationship was forged in the crucible of war”

(from google.com)

I’m going to go with definition number 2. Wow that’s pretty powerful. Severe trial, many elements, something new. I like that a lot. It’s kind of inspiring isn’t it? To think that our trials make us new again. Sometimes in my job I get to sit with people and do more than research. Talk of articles about co-leadership and eBooks can often turn into hopes and dreams with a side of past turmoil, hurts and abuses. Working with people like we do often times we are able to really make a connection with somebody and be inspired by them. I met an adult student yesterday that told me a story of her youth, and her struggles, her cycles of emotional and physical abuse, and how she got where she is today. She was studying business, but really wanted to study psychology and work closely with children who need a place to turn and to help guide them. She wanted to be the somebody that she never had when she was a child. It was downright amazing and I wanted to cheer her on the best way I could. Dreams man, they are the best thing in the world. But you can see that the trials in your very own life, the fires, the pain, all of it just forges you ahead and can turn you into something bright shiny and new. It’s really never too late for that. Now you can take all of that, learn, teach and help others to leave this world in a much better state than how you found it. Oh my lord I’m inspiring the heck out of myself here and I have to stop before my brain explodes from over use of the word inspiration.

That’s the thought of the day then I suppose. Get out there and seek out a crucible, do it. You never know what can happen on the other side of it. Something new, something better?

 

Bennis, W. & Thomas, R. (2002). Geeks & Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders.  Boston, Massachusettes; Harvard Business School Press.