Saturday, February 26, 2005

Saturday afternoon, sunny and beautiful, 56 degrees outside. And so I'm in the reference area, answering questions for four hours.
  • Where are the drinking fountains?
  • Where can I find this [incorrect, incomprehensible] call number? (It was for the Europea World Yearbook regional volume Africa South of the Sahara.)
  • Are the issues of Variety and The Economist that I want available in print, or only on microfilm?
  • Where can I find a math textbook that covers what my first-year Math course is teaching--basically, algebra?
  • How do I print from my workstation?
  • I need to find articles about sanitation in Ghana. Where can I look?
  • Where can I find an article published in 1950 in the journal Medical Surgeon? (It was actually titled Military Surgeon; the bibliography in the patron's book was wrong.)
  • Where can I find information about the state of communications media in Iran?
  • How do I know what these call numbers are--microfilm, reference books, or regular books?
  • Are Denmark and Norway capitalist countries? Were they ever Communist?
  • Where can I find primary sources for my assignment on gender and family dynamics in the Renaissance?
  • Where can I find the areas of various countries? And also, where can I find the area of the USSR in the 1970s or the 1980s?
  • Where can I find information about polar bear habitat? And where can I find out whether the price of polar bear hides has risen since the government prohibited/restricted polar bear hunting?
  • Where is this call number, for a book on haute cuisine? (A return visit from yesterday's student working on cuisine and couture. Still confused, but looking for books, at least. Specifically, for a book that I noticed/craved when it came in recently: Eating Architecture. It's out, sadly.)

I'm working today with a male student assistant, and it's interesting: most of the men with questions go to him, and most of the women come to me. People are funny.

Better Half and I came up with the best game ever last night, while eating salad rolls at Sweet Basil. Starting here in Eugene, with unlimited resources and time, we have to country-hop around the world, always travelling east. North/south doesn't matter, but every location we pick has to be east of the last one. BH got first go, and chose NYC. Then I had to pick another destination, east of NYC. Which lets out most of South America. I can't remember exactly (I'd had a couple cocktails), but I think I chose Lisbon. BH took us to Rome. I couldn't remember how far east Rome was, in relation to, say, southern France, so I hedged and went up to Finland. Which might not actually count, it might be too far west. Then we came down to Vienna (?) and Budapest, and then we got stuck trying to figure out whether we'd totally missed Africa.

What makes this the best game in the world is that we actually want to go to all of these places, and that our geography is so bad. We spent long periods just staring at each other, ruminating, trying to remember where the Indian subcontinent was. In version 2.0, we plan to make each other name the capital city of whatever country we pick. Should be good.

In other news, I'm making tamales this weekend, because BH had foot surgery yesterday and needs treats. Between us, we have a pretty substantial cookbook collection, all without a single recipe for tamales. Ruth Reichl, Deborah Madison, Saveur, Moosewood, Edward Espe Brown, ReBar--you let us down! I'm a little astonished that none of these people even venture into tamale territory, because tamales are the food of the gods. I'm also, frankly, a little put off that our copy of Saveur Cooks Authentic American doesn't include tamales. Dear Saveur: Mexican-American food IS "authentic" American food. "[A]ll-embracing, melting-pot cuisine"* MY HIND LEG.

*From the review.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Week eight of a ten-week term = student panic attacks. Several of my own students are freaking out, and they're not alone. The reference area is busy.

So far (within one hour):
  • How can I narrow my search on courtship and dating over time?
  • Where can I find scientific articles about chlamydia? [No relation to above question.]
  • Do you have phone books for all of the states in the U.S.?
  • Can I scan an article onto my Zip drive, so that I don't have to pay to photocopy it and then scan it at home?
  • I need eight to ten primary sources about the Cuban missile crisis. I already have three or four...what else can I look for? (Bafflingly, when I tried to draw the student out by asking her what year the crisis happened, she didn't know.)
  • What does it mean when an item is in the "Music Collection"?
  • Where can I find an issue of California Law Review from 1975?
  • Where can I find articles or books about cuisine and couture? (Student was very confused about what her assignment was supposed to entail.)
  • Do you have more staples?

On the reading front, a few interesting items:

  • The Woman Who Pretended to be Who She Was. I just noticed this dust jacket in the pile I've accumulated on a shelf in my office. It looks interesting, although I admit I'm not really sure what we mean when we say, "impersonating the self." Apparently the author is a prominent scholar of Hinduism, which sounds a little left of center for a topic like this...but I don't know much about Hinduism, so there you go. Will consult with Better Half, who knows more about these things.
  • The Secret Life of Puppets. Better Half brought this home from the bookstore a couple of weeks ago, and I just picked it up. So far I'm frustrated and indignant with the sweeping generalizations about how modern secular society worships celebrity...but also really interested to see where she's going with this. It's a disparate, across-the-map examination of the chthonic and the grotesque in our culture, and I do love the chthonic and grotesque.
  • Critical Mass. A blog I've just discovered...okay, Better Half discovered it and I finally found time to check it out. BH is smarter than I am. Anyway, it's a great, intelligent, snappy, political blog about education in this country. (I.e., the U.S.) Excellent articles and commentary by Erin O'Connor.
  • Colleges: An Endangered Species? Linked from Erin O'Connor's blog, above. Andre Delbanco writes in The New York Times Review of Books about the changing face of higher education. There'll be a second article soon, if it hasn't already appeared while I've been snoozing. Very interesting, and a great primer for someone like me, who doesn't know as much about the history of higher ed as she should.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Please remind me, the next time I decide to buck the trend and actually teach a citation style, that there is no pleasure to be had in grading citation styles. Especially when you're teaching APA, and contorting it to apply to the hard sciences, to masses of government documents, and to all sorts of other non-social-sciences things that it was never really meant to handle.

Tonight on the desk...

  • I need a map of the various dialects and languages spoken in Germany. (Approximately one million Geo 202 students are doing this tonight; it's due tomorrow. Ethnologue is getting a workout.)
  • Do we have access to Hoover's Online?
  • Where are the Culturegrams books? (Geo 202, I suspect.)
  • Where can I find pictures of pregnant teenagers for my poster project? (Actually really hard to do, though I admit I steered clear of a Google search, afraid of what I might pull up...)
  • Where can I find articles about renewable ocean energy sources?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

My better half is Louisianian, so last night we had a Mardi Gras party. There was king cake (with bean!), jambalaya, muffaletta, gin gimlets (I don't know why), beads, doubloons, and paper money for Chinese New Year. Also birthday candles for a friend's daughter, who just turned fourteen. We see no reason to compartmentalize our holidays.

There was also a fair amount of beer. The reference desk today is feeling a little foggy, for some reason.

So far:
  • How can I find these specific Biblical commentaries? (Anchor, etc.)
  • Where can I get a travel guide to New Orleans?
  • How can I tell if we have volume 34 of the journal Archaeometry? And so we have online access?
  • What's the call number for Orwell's 1984?
  • My citation is for volume 19 of Wisconsin Archeologist, which should be 1998, but when I look on the shelf that's from 1919. What's going on?
  • When a paper says it should be written in "APA style," what does that mean?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I think I mentioned that our reference department just got a blog of its own, but I didn't provide the link. Here it is:

I feel like a new mother!

Okay, not really.

  • Where can I find the book Nation State in the Center of Europe, by H. Schulz? (Actually Schulze, and not a book--a chapter inside a book by Hagen Schulze, called Germany: A New History. A copy was on reserve for the student's class.)
  • Where can I find information about how feminism has influenced girls today?
  • Where can I find information about abstinence, especially in government documents? (That came out weird.)

Monday, February 07, 2005

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I've been out of the country for a few days, and taken up with grading my students' assignments and planning class, so I haven't seen much active reference desk duty. Things keep happening in my absence, though. For one thing, we got a departmental blog for our reference questions ( Cool.

Things are quiet tonight, which is good. I'm behind in my indexing for ABELL, and in my trade and university press approval plan spending for a couple of funds. Amazing how a four-credit class can suction time out of your regular working life.

This evening's fare:
  • Where can I find soil tables detailing the composition of the soil beneath the University of Oregon?
  • Where can I find information about Brazil?
  • Why is my computer frozen?
  • Where can I find articles about Jackson Browne? I have a disability and can't use the computer.
  • Where can I find a list of all Nobel Prize winners (any category) who were lawyers? (Agh!)

On the night table (because I haven't mentioned what I'm reading for a long while now): The Religions of India, The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll, the new Gourmet cookbook, Monty Don's The Complete Gardener, The Invention of Heterosexuality, Home Work, recent issues of Blind Spot, Found Magazine, and something my sweetie picked up yesterday at the bookstore magazine rack: a literary magazine doing a special issue on stories of the sea, which is amazing. Includes a photograph of an eighty-storey rogue wave breaking over the bow of a cargo ship. !!!!!

She also just finished Ghostwritten, and loved it. I am told I must read it next. Will do.

Also of note: the new book Eyes, Lies, and Illusions (crazy expensive, packed with beautiful optical illusions, comes with cool shiny folding telescope illusion device inside), the movie Turtles Can Fly (Kurdish refugees, 2003: dark, wrenching), the movie 2046 (Hong Kong boarding house romance, needs to be released in USA), and the BBC DVD Chased by Dinosaurs, which uses amazingly good CGI and creature effects to pit a Crocodile Hunter-style narrator against Jurassic reptiles. The underwater scenes are incredible. (Megalodon!)