September 29, 2006

Now, you don't see THAT every day

So I'm tooling along the road, humming along with the gypsy music floating from my stereo, thinking how happy I am it's Friday - and I look up to see four beautifully-restored Model T's motoring down the road in front of me! They all had New Mexico "horseless carriage" license plates and were just chugging along - gorgeous cars driven by smiling people (I know, because I waved at them all and got waves back). A very cool way to start the day!

September 27, 2006

I. Detest. LaTeX.

Really, truly, profoundly, and very very deeply, I do. The write-ups f0r the LISA V conference proceedings are due at the end of the week and, because we're going with ASP as the publisher, it all had to be done in LaTeX. (No, I'm not going to format the silly thing.)

I wrote my paper - a poster write-up, actually - in about 45 minutes, including generating new images. It then took 12 HOURS (yes, that would be spread over two days) to get a successful compile (yes, you have to compile it) of the ginormously-huge 3.5-page document, and this after downloading and installing four different software packages on my machine. And contacting the ASP's LaTeX tech support person (thanks again, Terry!). And ranting a lot. Why, oh why, are they still requiring LaTeX? Can't you just accept a PDF (which they want anyway, did I mention that? The .tex file, the figures in .eps format, and a final PDF), which will let the folks with the deep mathematics needs use LaTeX and those of us with zero equations, two pages of plain text and a few figures to use anything else? I am deeply frustrated and seriously annoyed... I just blew a day and a half on this, time that could have been spent doing many, many other things. Thankfully my boss was understanding, and even encouraging - I hit the point at the end of the day yesterday where I was just going to tell the editors to pull my name, I wasn't submitting a poster writeup, and he encouraged me to stay the course. So thanks, Rob.

I wish the conference editors and ASP joy and happiness with this. If they send it back to me with any kind of tweaks or anything like that, I'll return to the "Heck with it, publish it without me" model. I ain't touching that blasted file again. Grr! Not gonna do it!

Now 94° and down to 12%Rh. Aaahhh..... with an added bonus of NOT HAVING TO LOOK AT THAT FILE AGAIN. The week is looking up!

Yeah, What Sophie Said

I just read Sophie Brookover's NextGen article in Library Journal, "Priorities & Professionalism". Well put (I knew she was a good writer, I'm a big fan of Pop Goes the Library) and thoughtful discourse on priority changes and how they can affect us. As a new mother myself, her words really rang in my ears.

92°, 22%Rh. Perfect.

September 22, 2006

Friday's Random Musings

Marian Seeley, the inspiration for "Marian the Librarian" in "The Music Man", is being honored in her hometown today. I always liked Marian.

If you haven't watched the video for Cascada's "Everytime We Touch", I recommend it. The song's rather average (IMHO) but it's worth it to see the librarian and all the patrons dancing at the end! (Bonus stereotype-a-bit-different: The librarian's a guy with glasses, and the singing temptress takes off his glasses and musses his hair. Yes! It's not just the female librarians whose inhibitions drop when their glasses are removed. Hang on a second...)

Go, Jan Stout! A librarian who challenged her teen readers to read a chunk of pages by the end of the summer; if they did it, she'd dye her hair whatever color the teens chose. They did, and she did! What a fun way to get them to read!

September 21, 2006

Wizards Unshelved

An interesting, humorous interview with Bill Barnes of "Unshelved" is available over at Wizard Entertainment. Give it a read! (I really want to know what the second story is....!)

Aah, fall... Sunny, 85° and 25%Rh. Just about perfect.

September 18, 2006

Oh, yeah...

...John Scalzi's Bac-On-Cat made me laugh out loud! A nice break from the bedlam -


Well, it's official. Any second now, my brain is going to go *pop* and start leaking out my ears. Reviews are hell. Project-wide, in-depth, magnifier-in-hand reviews run by the NSF are worse. Am I going to survive until November 4th, when (thank the deities) it'll all be over? I sure hope so.

My brain is currently consumed by:
  • Configuration management. Namely, updating our control plans to more accurately and correctly describe what we're actually doing, while being clear enough so that someone can understand that "document and drawing control plan" really is a part of the overall CM plan and is for much more than just use as a doorstop. I begin to wonder if I should change the plain English descriptions to those using more $5 words like the big boys use, but when you get down to it, we're defining the same thing, using the same process, and I know my engineers will understand me. So I'm stickin' with it.
  • Acronyms, abbreviations, and glossary definitions. Damn, do we use a lot of those around here. Keeping track of them all is a bit of a challenge, especially since I have to have two versions (long story).
  • CSS. This one's been the worst by far in a way; I am so fascinated with what I've learned recently (bless Dave Shea and the CSS Zen Garden; I bought the book and have learned SO MUCH about how to really use CSS as more than just a font defining system) that not only am I redesigning MPOW's entire web site in my head, but I find myself lying awake at night and redesigning web sites I've built in the past using proper CSS. (And I'm talking about web sites for companies that went away years ago.) I just can't seem to let it go. I'm dreaming in CSS now. At last... no more forcing the issue with tables and messy markup! I'm so excited. But, of course, I can't really rip apart the web site and redo it all properly until after the review, so I'll just have to sit and twitch until then. I can't wait. I'm also gutting and reworking my high school alumni web site and my Librarian Image site - I even hired a graphic designer to do all new images and designs for it (the latter, not the former; I have artwork from the school for it). I'm so excited! But in the meantime, I gotta get some sleep....
  • Web site CMS's. I know - 100%, for-sure know - that there's a better way to manage MPOW's web sites than what I'm doing. Right now I'm the gateway, and it's all done by hand - with a few special exceptions, noone can change anything on the web site except me. Chances are that's gonna stay the same, for control issues, but dang it, there has to be a better way of managing all the pages than hand-editing them individually. Preparing the web pages for the upcoming review has really, really brought that home to me - it's way past time to investigate my options and maybe implement one of them. If it works well, I can expand it outwards to the other web sites I'm responsible for in the overarching organization.... but there has to be something. I can't use a wiki (although I'm thinking about it for some of our internal pages, where it doesn't matter if one of the engineers posts mechanobabble); I've heard good things about a whole bunch of possibilities and I'm just itching to get at them. I'm going to have such fun after the review, between CMS and CSS research and rewriting - woo hoo! (I've been accused of being "such a geek" for finding this so exciting. So be it!)
  • Database applications. Thanks to the extremely patient explanations of my SQL guru hubbie, I've learned so much about how to manipulate Access to give me what I want. I find using Access' built-in stuff just doesn't ever seem to really give me what I want it to, and I just don't have time to learn VBA right now (see above!) - but learning that I can get into the SQL code, and then using that (which I use for a few other applications anyway), has really made a difference. I can't make it sit up and beg yet, but give me time, and maybe next year I can actually take a class or two in VBA and learn how to make it dance!
  • Briefly, gender in the technology workplace. I never did get that post out, so here's an abbreviated version, way after the fact and probably on a topic that's already dumped from everyone's bit buckets, but I gotta get it out of my head anyway! I used to think (and joke) that I worked in a building full of old white men, but when I really looked around I realized that I actually seem to work in a pretty darned forward organization. In just my part of the NSO world, there's me, of course, the systems librarian and all-around IT go-to gal, and our enclosure engineer is a woman (hey, you can't tell me that mechanical engineering is any less male-centric than IT, I won't believe you.). The Project Managers for two other major divisions of NSO are women, and on one of them, more than half the programming team are women. There are several female tenure-track scientists. The computer system supervisor for NOAO is a woman (we rent space from NOAO and all our email, etc., comes through their mail server). So, basically, I'm damned lucky and know it... it's been a very, very long time since I've had to stand up to a guy about my knowledge base and I don't think the thought would even cross the minds of my coworkers now. (Also they know I'd come at them with my LART.)
And, heck, this doesn't even go into the stuff going on at home - we've been working (forever, it seems) on replacing the floor in the house, and hit a major milestone this weekend. And my son is just growing and blossoming and throwing temper tantrums every day - spending time with him is of paramount importance. Heck, who needs sleep!

I think the monsoon has, sadly, ended; it's currently a lovely 86° with 19%Rh. I've got my window open! (I love having a window.)

September 8, 2006

Short Random Thoughts

Woke up this morning, second day in a row, to rain and thunder... very cool.

Have a couple of posts rattling around in my head, one on gender in the workplace and one on database development, but work has been so tense and nuts this week I just haven't had a chance. I plan on getting them out this weekend, just to get 'em outta my head if nothing else!

September 5, 2006

What did you do this weekend?

The New One
The New One,
originally uploaded by desertlibrarian.
Me? Oh, got a little bit of art done is all....

Props to Scott for the design and Emily of Enchanted Dragon Tattoo for the work!

It's cloudy and a cool 87°. Last night we slept with the windows open - what a lovely change!