Not mother of the year

This morning, Miss4 finished her breakfast earlier than her sister and ran upstairs to get ready first.  “Not fair!” her sister screamed, “she always gets ready before me!”  “Well, if you wouldn’t sit there and scream and cry, you could get ready faster,” I criticized in return.  She ran out of the room in tears and screamed that she hated her sister.  This phrase had been appearing with alarming frequency lately, and I was tired of it.  I charged into her bedroom to call her on it, but before I could get a word out, she yelled, “Why do you always yell at me but you encourage her?”

I stopped dead. “You’re right. You’re totally right. I shouldn’t do that.”  Because her sister is still 4, I use a completely different approach with her.  Demands fall flat–the stronger the demand, the harder she digs her heels in.  Miss7 outgrew it, mostly, so to encourage her to get ready quickly, I had appealed to her growing sense of self-responsibility.  When she started first grade, we told her that she knew what the morning routine was, and that she was big enough to get ready without being prompted every step of the way.  It worked great.

Well, somewhere along the way, that got lost.  She constantly gets distracted doing the littlest tasks, and she has to be reminded multiple times every step of the way.  It’s easy for morning drama to escalate, especially when Miss4 “does things first.”

So, Miss7 and I had a good talk about how we shouldn’t yell at each other, and how she needs encouragement just as much as her sister does.  When we got to the point about not saying “I hate you,” she said “It’s hard helping take care of a little kid.”  “I know,” I said, “and I have *two* to look out for.”  “I do, too, Mom,” said Miss7, “I have to remind you of stuff sometimes, too.”

Yep. She’s totally right.  It’s not fair for parents to take out frustration and stress on our children, but everyone falls prey to it eventually (and for most people, repeatedly).  I just hope that others out there are lucky enough to have a kid that will call them on it.

Going to go cry in my Cheerios now.

New at Techsource: Creative Commons and You

Libraries and librarians can make use of Creative Commons licensed works but must be careful to adhere to the terms of the licenses.  Finding photos that have been licensed CC is the easy part: CC search is a part of flickrCompfight and even Google Images search.

Read more at the TechSource blog.

“Don’t you think she looks tired?” A lesson for Apple from the Doctor

I’ve loved Wired Magazine since the issue where they wrote about Keanu Reeves playing Johnny Mnemonic. It can only be described as love: that glossy article was a perfect storm of my then-favorite actor, my favorite author, and lots of tech shiny. Zap. Love. Go ahead, laugh.

Annnywaaaaayyy… I love Wired. I’ve been a subscriber for years. I’ve justified my growing discomfort with the magazine’s insidious sexism and entrenched superiority by telling myself it’s the best avenue to good, thoughtful tech writing and bite-sized gadget reviews. Well, I’ve had it. From the high-texture, low-saturation, well-lit photography to it’s snack-sized snark snippets, I’m done.

This is nothing against the brilliant writing. Pieces by Chris Anderson, William Gibson, and countless others whose names I don’t remember have moved me and made me think. This rant is directed squarely at the editors who design all the snippets on the cover and tables of contents that suck readers in.

What does this have to do with Apple and Dr. Who? There is a small snippet of text on the upper-right corner of the August 2010 issue, which I can’t link to because it’s not on their website yet. The text reads: “#ATTFAIL: Inside the iPhone Network Meltdown.” And just like that, Wired moves from being Apple champion to shitstorm-bringer. Seeing this snippet peek at me from the countertop reminded me strongly of the end of “The Christmas Invasion,” David Tennant‘s first full episode as Doctor Who. The Doctor, incensed and appalled by Prime Minister Harriet Jones’s order to blow up the Sycorax, says to her assistant, “Don’t you think she looks tired?” The ensuing media shitstorm results in the fall of her government.

It doesn’t matter that the Wired article is well-written, fairly unbiased, and very interesting. It doesn’t matter that they are trying to break new ground with their iPad edition. With “#ATTFAIL: Inside the iPhone Network Meltdown,” Wired has placed itself in the anti-Apple camp, which will continue to pull its readers–largely male gadget- and hacker-types, I’ll hazard to SWAG*–down the snark-fuelled, soundbyte-driven path away from mainstream humanity.

That’s not to say that I’m particularly an Apple Champion, either, nor am I an Apple Detractor. Macs have been my primary computer since 2004. Apple has beautiful, well-functioning products that I truly like and that have revolutionized mobile computing and music. BUT. But I’m bothered by the DRM, by the walled-garden attitude (is that the right metaphor for “if it doesn’t work, too bad, you can’t get in there and poke around?”), and the extreme propriety. So, I’m a fan, but not a fanatic. They are a company that provides products that I use and like, but they have their foibles and frustrations.

*SWAG: speculative wild-ass guess. Yes, I’m being sardonic.

Let’s Talk About LeBron: a modest proposal


ostrich-head
Originally uploaded by visionshare | cc:by-nc

Twitter is rife with complaints about the chatter surrounding LeBron James’ choice to leave the Cleveland Cavs for Miami. I’m here to defend those who are outraged and singularly occupied by this obvious betrayal. Why? Because it’s easy. Let’s take a quick look at what else is going on in the world:

The Oakland Riots.  I much prefer hating on LeBron to thinking about the Oakland Riots because the latter involves cops and race issues.  Police officers are scary, and race issues are icky.  If I look into my heart and mind, I might find opinions there that make me uncomfortable.  And we don’t want that.

The Gulf Oil Spill.  LeBron vs. tar-covered shore birds.  Simple: LeBron.  Aside from some indigestion in Northern Ohio, LeBron is not actually making anyone sick.  Looking into my dependence on NBA excitement (and the products it makes me want want want) does not make me uncomfortable, like thinking about my personal dependence on petroleum products might.  Nevermind that Nikes are actually made with petroleum products.  Too close to home.

The wars in Iraq & Afghanistan.  Oh it’s *easy* not to talk about these, because they started, like, years ago.  Is anyone still paying attention?  These also succumb to the distance rule–if someone dies who’s thousands of miles away and doesn’t look, talk, or believe like I do, I don’t have to care, right?  The exception, of course, is that I Support Our Troops (TM) and hope that Johnny and Jane come home soon.  Next!

The Economy. Hm…. this one is tougher, as I have opinions about money.  As in, I need more of it, and it annoys me that athletes and coaches make so much of it.  Whoops, there’s LeBron again.  It’s much easier to grouse about his inflated salary than it is to make a decision whether to support the federal extension of unemployment benefits or federal financial reform.

And with that… it’s time to settle in and watch some TV.  Specifically, some sort of science fiction, because reality is just too yucky.  Hey, isn’t there a game on?

New at TechSource: Lessons from ALA 2010

Three years ago, at the ALA Annual Conference in DC, I wrote this blog post. I was a month into a new job and trying to find my way into the impenetrable depths of the seemingly endless ALA. My past experience in other associations told me that Woody Allen was right when he said that eighty percent of success is showing up: associations like ALA and its chapters and divisions depend on volunteers to get business and planning done, and there are never enough volunteers. So, looking back, what have I learned?

Read more at the ALA Techsource blog.

Two more photo posts at TechSource

Stay on top of the chaos:

In sitting down to write Part 5 of this series, “Turning Images into Objects,” I realized I’d gotten ahead of myself. If you’ve beenkeeping up with this series, you’ll know that we’ve covered photography basics, what the modes on your camera mean, and ideas for using your camera creatively in the library. Before we can think about prints, greeting cards, business cards, stickers and other interesting and practical things that you can make from photos, you have to get them off the camera and onto the web. Simple, right? Well…. It can be, if you plan ahead a bit. Here are some tips that may help. Read More…

Flickr extras:

I use Flickr all the time personally, and my library has two accounts, a general library account and a University Archives account. Flickr has been around for a few years now, and librarians all over the world use it to share images from their personal and professional lives. Flickr is more than a great place to post and share photos with your community; it’s a community in itself, and a starting place for all sorts of activities. Read More…

TechSource Post: Fun with photos at library events

From photo booths to scavenger hunts, flickr is a great place to find ideas for using your digital camera at library events. Read more at the TechSource blog.

Yes, this photo is a gimme, but I love it! :)

We are nothing without each other


Book Titles
Originally uploaded by London Public Library

I’ve been working today on a TechSource post about creative ways to use a digital camera in a library and have been wowed and awed by all the great programming that is being documented by libraries on flickr. There’s the usual–storytime, gaming events, Meet-the-Authors. My favorite so far is an event held by the London, Ontario Public Library: “Human Book.” Community members from all walks of life volunteered to spend a few hours at the library posing as “human books,” meeting with interested “readers” and telling their life stories. Regardless of how many books we circulate, articles we download, what matters most (IMNSHO) is the impact that we have on each other. Fabulously done, London PL.

Love, Actually

OK, so I’ve been thinking a lot over the last couple of years about love. The different kinds of love, who we have love for, how it waxes and wanes (or not).  Sounds pretty stupid, I know.  Sappy.  Love is for Twilight fans, readers of bodice-rippers, those who like to have Kleenex handy when watching a movie, right?  Well, no.  Love is for all of us, and the more we say so and let ourselves write and talk about it, the healthier we will be.  Let’s just say that I buy into J.K. Rowling‘s view of love. Rest assured, Dear Reader, that this is all I’ll say for now on this topic.

I’ve had this video open in a browser tab on my home computer for several days:

It’s a short film (illegally uploaded, ahem) written and directed by one of my favorite novelists (and library champions), Neil Gaiman, whose novel Neverwhere I first read quite a while ago. I’ve watched “Statuesque” several times, and I have to admit that the first time, the Neverwhere fan in me was waiting for something horrible and bloody to happen.  Instead, I was pleasantly surprised at this wonderful little tale of simple love.

There is so much to, well, love about this video, start to finish, from story to music to acting to set.  My favorite bit? Bill Nighy gives a brilliant performance without saying a word.

Photo Basics: a la Mode

Cross-posted at ALA TechSource blog as Take Pictures, Tell Stories Part Three.

Modern digital cameras, whether small hand-held models or digital SLRs, often have more modes and options than the average picture-taker needs, but knowing a bit about how modes work can improve photos.

As explained in the previous post, three measurements work together to ensure a properly-exposed photo: ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Most cameras have various modes that enable photographers to give weight to either shutter speed or aperture, while allowing the camera to dictate the other measurements. If you aren’t yet comfortable experimenting with aperture or shutter speed, you can try using some of the automatic modes. Ever wonder what those little icons on the settings dial mean?

Below is an explanation of typical camera modes:

  • Auto or Program – these fully-automatic modes allow the camera to set the shutter speed and aperture based on the light measured by the built-in light meter. Fully-automatic mode typically also uses the on-board flash when there is not enough ambient light for an exposure. You might have to rely on this mode during library events if you are in a dimly-lit room or if you are unsure whether you can get away with turning off the flash. Newer Fuji point-and-shoot cameras have an automatic mode that will take two exposures–one with flash and one without.
  • Portrait (head and shoulders icon) – this mode is best used when taking close-up photos of an individual. Portrait modes typically default to wide apertures so that the subject is isolated from the background. Many small digital cameras have face-detection technology and will adjust the focus and exposure to give faces priority. Some cameras can even detect cat and dog faces.
  • Landscape (often a mountain icon) – use this mode to take photos outdoors or of an entire room, where the entire scene is the star of the show, rather than one person or object. Landscape mode usually defaults to a narrow aperture so that more of the photo is in focus, from foreground to background.
  • Macro (usually a flower icon) – this mode is used for taking extreme closeups, particularly of small objects like flowers or insects. Some digital SLRs have a macro setting, but hard-core macro photographers tend to use special lenses as well.
  • Sports mode (a running person icon) – this mode defaults to a low ISO and fast shutter speed and is best used to capture action, as at sporting events or of small children.
  • Night modes -the camera to the right also has two night modes that would assist in taking photos in low light. A night portrait mode is useful when taking photos of individuals in front of a sunset: the camera exposes for the sunset, then uses a brief flash to shed light on the people in the frame.

Using portrait mode when taking photos of only one or two people, but switching to Auto or Landscape mode when shooting an entire room full of people may result in a better end product. The biggest secret in digital photography? Take as many photos as is required to get the shot that you like best.

Partially-automatic modes offer some control for the photographer. With aperture priority, the photographer sets the desired aperture, and the camera sets the shutter speed needed for a good exposure. Speed Priority or Time Value mode lets the photographer set the desired shutter speed, and the camera sets the aperture needed for a good exposure. Many digital cameras also have a fully-manual mode, but for point-and-shoot cameras, what “fully manual” means can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Typically, the camera’s built-in light meter will provide visual feedback as to whether the dialed-in setting will result in a proper exposure.

Up next: Fun with photos at library events

Photo courtesy Cats-eye-view; CC:by-nd