Tag: gypsy

Open Access Tenure: My Horn, I Honk It

We’re a little thin on the ground at the Hedgehog Place of Work. (H-POW–it looks like an exclamation from a comic book) One coworker is off for a highly anticipated two week vacation, one had a couple vacation days, and one called out sick. All very valid reasons but that leaves just Madame Department Chair and yours truly getting to handle all of the printer kerfluffles that decided to happen.

It’s annual review time–Madame Department Chair is writing them up before her retirement on May 1. (I will need a new department head in the future but there is currently discussion of what role and capabilites that new future department head should take and have to best move us forward. I’ll let you know when it’s posted). I’ve met with Madame Department Head quarterly, so I have documents that help me pull together what I’ve been accomplishing for the past few months.  Rereading them with the perspective of all that I’ve done in a year is a bit surprising–the day to day doesn’t feel like much has been done but since last June, I’ve:

  • Taken on teaching Evidence Based Practice to the first year Dentistry students. This is expanding to our International Students and I expect to move up the years with my D1s.
  • Started embedded office hours with Dentistry.
  • Been appointed/assigned 6 new committees. (Volunteered for a 7th-it’s not a heavy time burden)
  • Organized Code4Lib-MW with the Beerophile Sysadmin. We’re hosts for Code4Lib 2013, apparently we did well.
  • Written two book chapters–one with colleagues from Shipps University and one on my own.
  • Given my first national library presentation at Computers in Libraries.
  • Survived most of the way through my first year as Chair of LITA-PPC.
  • Figured out my research topic for the next couple of years.
  • Started actively working with four different collaborators for papers and presentations that I hope will be out within the next 6-24 months.
  • Moved department statistics from entirely paper based to entirely electronic.
  • Joined the Journal of Collaborative Librarianship as a Review Editor.

It’s not everything I wanted to do in the first year, but it’s a healthy starting place. A lot of what I’ve been doing has been establishing a base, finding what it was that I wanted to do and with whom I wanted to do it. A year ago I hadn’t really planned on OA Tenure but obviously that’s come up too.

Astute readers will notice that there’s not any peer reviewed research on that list. Yes, I know.  I would plead time poverty, which is always true, but mostly it goes back to being more focused on foundational things. I’ve been flailing around trying to find a niche for myself over the past twelve months. That flailing included continuing education, pestering professional colleagues, going to a couple of sessions at conferences, and a number of long discussions with the Philosopher. Having better identified what directions I’m heading, having discussed those with my Assistant University Librarian, my tenure mentor, said previous professional colleagues, Pyewacket, and Gypsy, I’m better able to hone in on projects, figure out where to consider publishing, and actually getting research on paper.

One of the things my tenure mentor asked for was a relatively clear research statement, something on which I could build an agenda.  I struggled mightily with this but finally one morning it clicked.  My research interests  lie in examining use by librarians of early 21st century technological developments, specifically as the use relates to professional development and scholarly communication.

Does this sound of interest to you? Great, I’ll probably have a survey for you at some point. :-p  Seriously though, if this is something you’d like to explore too, shoot me an email. Let’s research something.


In My Teacup, I Will Read

There are few things more constant in my life than my morning cup of tea. I wake up, roll out of bed, stumble out to feed Gypsy, and turn on the tea kettle.* Twinings Lady Grey, Teavana’s Jasmine Pearls, and Celestial Seasoning’s Imperial White Peach are my top three choices, though I have strong feelings for a number of other flavors.  Rooibos nauseates me, which is unfortunate because a lot of smaller tea blenders that I’ve discovered have a strong fondness for it.

I trace my own tea history to early childhood, where giving up chocolate for Lent included giving up hot chocolate. While I liked the smell of percolated coffee on the stove, I wasn’t interested in drinking it.  Hot sweet tea on the other hand, that was appealing.  These days I’ve mostly eliminated sugar from my tea cup, reserving it for an occasional lump when I’m really tired or I realize I’ve forgotten dinner again.  I do keep lumps of sugar on hand though, they’re much easier to handle and to control how much sugar I’m adding.

Of late I’ve noticed that my reading has been trending towards my teacup:

It started when I got How Sugar Changed the World (Aronson/Budhos) and For All the Tea in China (Rose) in as holds at the same time.  The former is a children’s non-fiction book that got a lot of press last year; the latter is a narrative nonfiction that I can’t remember where I encountered. To my surprise and amusement I found myself approaching my favorite drink from two different sides of the globe.

How Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom and Science (Aronson/Budhos) takes a harsh look at the history of the sweet stuff that surrounds us. While giving a little bit of the extended history, most of the book focuses on the cultivation of sugar through a particularly brutal form of slavery.  It’s intended for a middle school/high school audience but that shouldn’t deter adult readers. One of the best/fastest ways to get up to speed on a topic or at least give yourself a good starting place is a children’s non fiction book and this is an excellent example of that.  The research behind this is dense and the images are provoking.

For All the Tea in China:How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History (Rose) gives the history of Robert Fortune, a man who would steal into China, exploring the horticulture and learning the secrets behind China’s most valuable export at the time. She points out the involvement of the East India Company, whose goal was primarily to make money off of tea, and demonstrates what would today seem to be a shocking amount of patience (several years of funded travel, albeit not that highly paid) for Fortune to commit international horticulture espionage. You get some English and Chinese and Indian history all rolled into the book and while I would have really liked to see her full bibliography, I found the book very readable. So much so that I’ve suggested it to M and the Incredibly-Patient-Mother, both of whom read and enjoyed it.

What slammed these two books together was the Industrial Revolution.  Both books talked about the need for workers in English factories to be focused and able to work long hours. Factory owners/managers realized they could give the workers sweetened tea, combining the tea plants that Robert Fortune was stealing from China, and the sugar that was being imported from slave labor in the Americas, in substitute for meal breaks.  Sweet tea (not the good Southern kind, but close I imagine) was found to be a substitute for ale, one that promoted health and kept the workers focused, rather than perhaps just a bit tipsy from the midday drink.

The health benefits of tea for English workers really surprised me. Of course, I know tea has lots of antioxidants and there are studies coming out all the time about why we should all be drinking tea. A quick PubMed search shows 45 new articles in 2011 alone that have tea as a Subject Heading, many of which are focused on the health benefits. And while when they mentioned water quality, I knew it wasn’t up to our current water treatment standards, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that switching one’s beverage intake to one where you were primarily consuming recently boiled water would so greatly lengthen life expectancy, lessen any number of gastrointestinal issues, decrease child mortality, etc etc etc.

And there’s apparently more to it. I’ve just started reading, at the Philosopher’s recommendation, The Ghost Map (Johnson), which is about a deadly outbreak of cholera in London. While I haven’t gotten to the specific mentions of tea yet, I’m told they are there and I’ll be looking for them (tea only gets two mentions in the index).

Finally, Gail Carriger’s fourth book in the Parasol Protectorate just came out. My copies of the first three books have been lent around a circle and while I’m pretty sure I know who has them, I enjoyed the books enough to grab a second set of copies which will hopefully hang around a little longer. I was rereading Book 1, Souless, to get back in the mood for Heartless and was enjoying her writing of tea, Battenburg, ordering tea from a butler, and immersing myself in a society that believed in the afternoon pause for a hot cup and a biscuit.

What’s in your teacup?

*Yes, the cat really does get fed before anything else in my day happens. Life is much easier this way and so  long as she only occasionally tries for a 5 a.m. breakfast, I’m okay with it.

Simplicity Sofas

Somewhere on the internet, probably the better part of two and a half years ago, I read a story about a guy getting a sofa. He talked about the hassles of trying to find a sofa that would fit into his apartment, which was in a major metropolitan, up a couple of flights of stairs, and not designed for the oversized, overstuffed furniture we find in stores today.

He mentioned a small sofa company that shipped sofas in easy to put together pieces and which was designed to fit through the more narrow apartment doors that many of us have. Considering my vivid memories of several friends hauling a sleeper sofa down five flights of stairs and then up two only to find out it that there was no possible way to turn it into the apartment, this had definite potential and appeal.

I sent away for a brochure.

I wasn’t really in the market for a sofa at the time. Company in La Crosse was rare and generally it was ladies who were happy to sit on their own chair. I had an air mattress for overnight guests and all was well. But then, then I moved back to Chicago. One of the things that came with me was the two year old brochure and after unpacking, settling a few things in, and having a few people over, it was confirmed: I needed a sofa.

Enter Simplicity Sofas.  They make chairs and sofas that will fit into apartments. They have a few different styles and a variety of lengths, depending on if you want curved arms or not. You can add a sleeper bed if you’ll be having overnight guests frequently. And you can choose your fabric rather than having it inflicted upon you by a furniture store, current trends, and celebrity designers.

I chose an Ashton Apartment Sofa in the Rebel Tanner (Set 2 of Fabric swatches) fabric. Because I do have that air mattress, I opted against the sleeper sofa.

Within 24 hours of sending my order I got an extremely nice email from the head of the company, welcoming me and thanking me for my purchase. I emailed back and mentioned that I’d held onto the brochure and we had a nice back and forth about the goals of the company–of which customer service is really high on the list.

When it was time for delivery (there is a little delay only because they have to build it rather than get it out of the warehouse), I was contacted by their shipping people as well as UPS to ensure that delivery was scheduled and that the time would work for me. The Philosopher agreed to be the second body on hand to help me haul things about–the UPS guy could bring it to the door but no further.  And of course, it was raining and miserably cold that night and he showed up at the very end of the delivery window.  Still, this had given us time to rearrange the living room again to make room, vacuum, and wait with nervous anticipation.

The delivery came in two boxes: a flat one for the bed of the sofa and then the pillows and cushions in a wonderfully huge box that Gypsy immediately claimed as her own.  (It’s still sitting on the enclosed back under-the-stairs space so she can go play in it. My cat isn’t at all spoiled.) While a little bit awkward, these were easily moved by two people.  Putting everything together took less than ten minutes.

The sofa has been deemed highly acceptable and I and a couple of friends can vouch for it’s comfort as a place to snooze overnight. It’s a little bit shorter than I was expecting–the bed/deck of the sofa is right about 64 inches. Not perfect for friends who are over 6′ but manageable should someone need to stay over for a night. This was probably my one quibble–I couldn’t find on the website the length of the bed of the sofa.  All of the measurements told me how long the entire sofa was, including the arms. It would be helpful to know that you’re dealing with a 5’4″ bed and it’s just the arms that are a variety of sizes***. It’s a minor detail but one I think could be easily updated.

Shortly after getting the sofa, I received a follow up email from the company to ensure everything was satisfactory. The company went far above and beyond to ensure that this was an excellent customer service experience for me.

I’m exceptionally pleased with Simplicity Sofas, with their customer service and with the sofa. I would say that I would order again soon, but as I think this sofa will be very sufficient for some time, the best I can do is recommend it to others.  If you are sofa shopping, please do check them out.  If you email me, I have a gift certificate/coupon that the owner sent me during our emails back and forth that I can share with anyone who is interested in purchasing.**

**I am not being compensated in any way for this.  I was not asked to blog about this. I’m just happy to share. Librarians, we can’t stop sharing.

***added June 30, I heard from Jeff at Simplicity. Here are their measurements for the bed/deck of the sofa

  • All full-size sofas              – 66″.
  • All mid-size sofas            – 60″  (This is the size sofa you have.)
  • All apartment-size sofas – 54″
  • All love seats                    – 44″
  • All chair and a halfs         – 30″
  • All chairs                           – 22″

Obligatory First Day of the Year Post

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a snuggly purring feline in one’s lap inhibits standing.  So apparently I need to sit, pet Gypsy, work on some blog posts that don’t require standing and fetching pictures, and such.

Of course, every time she changes position or tries to make the laptop keyboard a spot on which to sprawl does create a few challenges.

But my cat isn’t spoiled.

It was a quiet New Year’s–by choice.  Honestly it seemed muted most of the way around. I know a few people who went to some smaller parties, Restaurant Man was working, AudioGirl got off at the last minute, but there wasn’t the frantic rush or partying I’ve seen before.  And after six weeks of new introductions followed by family holidays, I have retreated to Chez Hedgehog.  Gypsy and I had cheese and crackers and I had some bubbly at midnight in NY. We watched Dick Clark, were amused at Ryan Seacrest’s automatic reaction to anything happening to be to turn and applaud (and look really startled when he realizes there’s not an audience to clap with him), debated if I wanted to go to the NKOTB-BSB tour (just for a second), and acknowledged that at least those guys can all carry tunes while Ke$ha…not so much.  Gypsy, still worn out from chasing Sibling-the-Elder’s cat around the Incredibly-Patient-Mother’s house for five days and suffering the indignity of 2 car rides where she got Arby’s Roast Beef to snack on, curled up on the futon and snoozed.

So now we quietly (with respect for those who are hung over) usher in the new year.  For the first month we’ll be assaulted with the knowledge that we all ate too much over the holidays and must want to exercise.  We’ll be slammed with cleaning out, shaping up, eating right, and making huge changes that are anticipated to be abandoned by the third week of the month so we can be sold an excess of Valentine’s Day chocolate.  For how else beyond excessive caloric intake could we possibly celebrate a holiday? Well…okay, fine, there’s also the roses and jewelry thing but aside from that.

Similarly to the start of the new school year, which is a major restart affecting us each September whether we’re in school or not, New Years is a nice–if arbitrary-time to make plans.  It’s accepted that change will come after December 31.

Last year for me was a year of Up.  And things went pretty well with that, though I can’t say I kept those ideas in the front of my mind at all times.

This year I find myself a little less planned.

General goals for the year:

  • Write more. I love writing. I am healthiest and happiest when I am writing a lot.
  • Self-organize. A lot of this is moving residual but I’m a rather cluttered disaster right now.  So I need to continue to use up, clean out, be realistic, and allow myself to get rid of things.
  • Spend time with people I care about. I’m back in a major city with two airports.  I’m centrally located which means it’s a couple of hours to get to just about everyone.  Plane ticket prices aren’t going down, the TSA will always be weird*, and the Blonde’s baby is only going to get bigger.  (And friends and family who are reading this? Those airplanes fly both ways.)
  • Do more than make the to-do list.

Over on Hedgehog Knitting I made a very specific and slightly rash goal. Last year I knit 13 km of yarn, or slightly more than 8 miles.  That’s what I tracked. It’s not all that I knit but it’s 90% of it.  So this year I set the bar at 20K–or around 12 miles.  And I want most of that to be the yarn I have stashed around Chez Hedgehog.  If I’m successful, and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be, it would make a huge dent in how many things you open around here and find yarn.  It might mean a few more people get knitted gifts next Christmas even….who knows?

But as for now I will begin as I mean to go on. I’m going to go write out a quick–short–to do list and get all of those things done.
Happy 2011.

*I’ve traveled internationally since I was 15. I’ve been full body searched in several European airports. More than anything, I just feel for the poor women having to do it.  Am I looking forward to full body search/back scatter? No. Do I think it really seems to help? No.  Am I going to stop flying? No.

Gypsy’s Birthday…

A year ago, when I brought Gypsy home, I decided upon her adoption date of December 10 as her official birthday. She’s three and has fluffed out into a fully mature 8 lb cat.

It’s been a fun first year. Gypsy is very social, strongly prefers women to men, is described as a busy cat (read–nosy), and is much better at snuggling and chatting than the house plants. She’s a decent car passenger, an early riser,  a big fan of ham and Cheetos, and a bit of a klutz.  She’s firmly convinced that she can jump higher than she’s actually able to and this is pretty entertaining and occasionally frustrating as she knocks things down.

Here’s a picture taken right after she arrived at Chez Hedgehog.


Hanging out on the balcony–she obviously misses going outside here but with the cold, her skittish nature and the large dogs next door it’s not really an option. Hoping to make use of a harness next summer.
Where's My Pina Colada

Once I lay something out to block, she considers it her property–though she’s surprisingly good about not bothering my knitting/yarn other than to lay on it.
With cat for scale

And stealing the shot…
A Feline Wrap

Happy Birthday Gypsy! Tuna for supper tonight : )

(This entry cross posted at Hedgehog Knitting)