Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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My Library

Over on Lifehacker, I saw a posting about how you can create a searchable catalogue of your book collection by taking pictures of your bookshelves and uploading them to Evernote. For the uninitiated, Evernote1 is a service where you can store notes and pictures and then search for text in them – including text in the pictures! By taking pictures of your bookshelves, all the titles and authors listed on the book spines then become searchable within Evernote. Very cool.

Anyway, it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write a blog post where I post pictures of all my books to show the world my library. The idea stemmed from the realization that I had that whenever I go to someone’s house, if I see a bookshelf, I *have* to examine what books they have. I think it is very telling. So now I’m putting all my books on display for the world to see – what do you think my book collection says about me?

Books

That bone china teacup is from my Granny‘s teacup collection. She gave one to all her children and grandchildren.

Books

That wooden duck was carved by my Grampa. It was in my Dad’s collection – my mom let me pick one when I was last visiting Ontario.

Books

Books

Books

Books

Books

Books

Books

  1. My usual disclosure: I have no vested interest in Evernote. []

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#35 – Guest Posting: Just Call Me Osama bin Librarian

Who better to write a guest posting with my theme of “Stuff Books Taught Me” than a librarian? This guest posting was written by the lovely librarian, Rebecca, of  Larocque and Roll.

Last summer, four librarians from Nigeria, Cuba and Iran were denied visas to go to the IFLA [1] conference in Montreal.  While I’m sure the Harper government had VERY good reasons for denying them [2], there was a letter to the editor[3] in the Toronto Star that identified the real reason they were not allowed to go to the conference: librarians are the real terrorists everyone needs to be worried about.

Think about it.  Librarians work in buildings surrounded by books, magazines, music CDs, movies, newspapers and audiobooks that contain information that could be dangerous if it ever got into the wrong hands.  For instance, things like the idea that man evolved from simians, the government is lying to us about the existence of aliens, and the fact that god may or may not exist.  Scary stuff, indeed.

In fact, librarians will go as far as to actually help people looking for dangerous ideas.  Want a book about witchcraft?  It’s over here in the 133.43s.  Evolution?  Check the 576.8 section – there are some books there.  You need some good novels to read on vacation?  Awesome – here’s some you might enjoy.

And you know what?  Librarians will let absolutely anyone, regardless of age, race, religion, sexual orientation or political creed, access this information.  That’s right – anyone can come in, borrow books about Communist philosophy and how-to books for building a web site, and librarians won’t even ask them if they are planning on starting a political group and posting about it online.  Nope, they don’t care. [4]  Will no one think of the children?

(Thankfully, there is a group in Wisconsin who are doing just that – they want some very dangerous books removed from the teen section and labeled as “sexually explicit” for their “gay-affirming” portrayals of homosexuality. [5] [7]  It’s just a small step on the path to making sure that certain people are protected from ideas that other people (who are clearly not those terrorist librarians!) deem dangerous.)

While perhaps it’s going a little far to call us terrorists, we are by no means neutral in the war for your mind.  We stop at very little [8] to help you find what you were looking for, and sometimes things you weren’t.  We won’t hesitate to redirect you if you’re on the wrong path, and we also won’t hesitate to eliminate material that is outdated or old.  Nor will we stand in the way of allowing materials on opposite sides of an issue into the library.  We’re cool that way.

However, if there is one thing we have in common with terrorists, it’s that we love the sound of minds being blown by new ideas.

[1] International Federation of Library Associations.  We’re worldwide, yo.
[2] SURE.  RIGHT.
[3] Note: The letter to the editor was written by my boss’s wife, which we (the staff) didn’t realize for a few days
[4] Seriously.  We don’t.
[5] If that happens, I can tell you exactly how that will end: teens will be FLOCKING to take out the books with the “sexually explicit” label, which will increase the number of teens visiting the library to check out the dangerous material, which will just drive up the circulation numbers.  Way to go, censors!  In fact, maybe the library should go ahead and label them “sexually explicit” to spite them. [6]
[6] That wasn’t a legitimate suggestion.  I was just kidding.
[7] They also want the library to include books written by “ex-gays” which as a librarian (just not the one who is in charge of book-buying), I would say yes to, if only so more people could see how completely deluded they are.
[8] Excessive overdue fines, numerous lost items, lost library cards, etc.

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#34 – All The Books I Currently Have Out of The Library

It’s time for… a list!  Who doesn’t love lists?  Hitler, that’s who.  Everyone else loves lists.  And now I give you one.  It’s the list of all the books I currently have out of the library.  Correction: the libraries. Because I have some books out of the VPL and some out of UBC library.

Books I Have Out of the VPL:

  • Eat that Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy (Mp3 audiobook)
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell (MP3 audiobook)
  • Getting To Yes Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher (CD audiobook)
  • They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter In Persuasive Writing by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein (an actual book!)
  • Getting Things Done by David Allen (MP3 audiobook – I’m on the wait list for this one)

Books I Have Out of the UBC Library:

  • Planning and evaluating health programs: A primer by Charles Hale, Frank Arnold, Marvin T. Travis
  • Doing qualitative research: A practical handbook by David Silverman
  • Enhancing university teaching: Lessons from research into award-winning teachers by David Kember & Carmel McNaught
  • Discussion with more students by Graham Gibbs
  • Sage qualitative research kit edited by Uwe Flick
  • Doing conversation, discourse and document analysis by Tim Rapley
  • Re-thinking science: Knowledge and the public in an age of uncertainty by Helga Nowotny, Peter Scott &Michael Gibbons.
  • Structure of scientific revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn.
  • Program theory-driven evaluation science : strategies and applications by Stewart I. Donaldson
  • Research methodology for sport and exercise science : a comprehensive introduction for study and research edited by Herbert Haag
  • Evaluating health promotion: Practice and methods edited by Margaret Thorogood &Yolande Coombes
  • Program evaluation: An introduction by David Royse
  • Philosophy and the sciences of exercise, health and sport: Critical perspectives on research methods edited by Mike McNamee

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#31 – Guest Posting: My Earliest Book-perience(TM)

A guest posting from my Official Statisitian and Tattoo Consultant

Holy crapshite!

I almost forgot to write my blog entry! I’m horrible. But then again, I remembered so maybe I’m not so horrible after all. I blame my PhD, and my Post Doc, and a slew of other academic pursuits for my memory lapse. I also blame the universe for failing to remind me in a timely manner that I need to write a blog entry. Furthermore, I blame pants, spiders and any sort of pant wearing spider. The reasons for this should be obvious. Granted, I probably should really blame the beers that I drank last night, in place of working on said academic pursuits and blogging. But who can really blame beer for anything? It’s all tasty and wonderful and full of wholesome goodness.

So this is my first official blog entry for Not To Be Trusted With Knives. In fact, it’s my first blog entry ever. I’m a blog virgin if you will. So please, dear reader be gentle; it’s my first time. Truth be told, I’m stoked and nervous. Stoked because it is a huge honour to be writing for NTBTWK. Nervous, because I don’t really know what to write about, and I have a lot to live up to, especially given the awesomeness of the posts that one regularly reads here.

So, what to write about? As I sit here contemplating the theme (“Stuff books taught me”), I find myself at a bit of an impasse. Why? Well, despite my love for all things statistical and mathematical, I’m guessing that most readers likely don’t want to read about Bayesian priors, Multivariate Conditionally Autoregressive Random effects, or Poisson Mixture Models, really, ever [1]. In fact, based on my experience, most people tend to find a reason to leave the conversation if ever I go on a statistically laced rampage. I find this especially true when I make the effort to strike up a conversation with family and friends, or that random person on the bus that has that look about them. You know the look I’m referring to. It’s the I-want-to-know-everything-you-know-about-stats look. I’m sure you’ve all experienced that before. Hence, I need to figure out other “stuff books taught me” in order to satisfy the theme of this particular blog-tastic blogathon. But what makes up the “stuff books taught me”?

If I think back to my earliest book-perience [2], I find myself a child of the tender age of [insert whatever age one would be in grades 1 and 2] [3]. So there I was, an innocent [insert whatever age one would be in grades 1 and 2] year old going to the school library. The uniqueness of this particular visit is what makes it stand out in my memory. Specifically, this visit was to extend beyond the typical sit-down-and-listen-to-a-story as read to us by the librarian. In this case, we were tasked with the additional responsibility of choosing a book to check out and read at home. Being the nerdly fellow that I was, I was beside myself with excitement. Which book would I choose? How would I know that it was the book for me? Would people think me weird if I were to choose say, book A: Happy Days for Mr. Mugs, or book B: Where the Sidewalk Ends [4]. I frantically searched through the shelves, looking for that one book that spoke to me. The book that would be My Book. The book that would forever be my first.

This book was too ugly, that one too thin. A book about dinosaurs, that might work. A book about rainbows – no. A book about knights – maybe, but not quite. Fire breathing dragons? Monsters under the bed? Jelly-Belly? Little Ms. [anything]? No. No. No. No. I was losing patience and running out of time. The clock was ticking and I was the only one without a book. My teacher, Mrs. Hannigan, had already informed us that our time was running out. But where was my book? I was lost, heartbroken, confused and frustrated. So many emotions for such a young boy. And then, when I thought all was lost, a glimmer of something. To my left, shoved between two larger, uglier books which surely read of stupid cowboy adventures or saving the damsel in distress, there it was. A thin, simple book. But oh this book! The title spoke to me: “Where the Wild Things Are”. I knew it was love the minute I touched it. The minute I cracked it open and saw the pictures, touched the pages, smelled the ink. They weren’t just pictures, they were more than art, they were images of a place that I knew intimately from my moments of make believe. It was as if someone had reached into my head and made real the world that I believed in, but up until that point thought was only in my mind. This world existed and I had documented proof. While the thoughts that ran through my brain were a blur, I distinctly remember thinking, “I must find this island”. It became my mission whenever and wherever I could, to seek out the “Wild Things”. I carried that book with me all the time. I often hid it in the library behind other books that no one would read so that I would know exactly where it was to check it out and keep it just for me. I had my book and I wasn’t about to share it with anyone. “Where the Wild Things Are” taught me about adventure, about exploration. It made me realize that monsters aren’t scary. It made me love books. It was my first book, and I love it to this day.

So, what makes up the “stuff books taught me”? I think, above all other lessons books have provided, beyond all the questions they have posed, assumptions they have prodded and poked, past the heartbreaks and adventures; above all of this, books have taught me how to stay forever young. For any time I’m feeling too caught up with the world, events of my life, the stresses of jobs, the stresses of relationships, family, etc., I know that I can always, always pick up “Where the Wild Things Are” and instantly be transported to that day in the library when I first discovered my love for books, and the feeling that someone could write not just for me, but to me, about me. That I could always revive the kid in me, and fully believe that there is an island out there just for me and my adventures with the “Wild Things”.

I only hope that the movie adaptation (which is hitting theatres October 16, 2009) lives up to the beauty that is “Where the Wild Things Are” [5] I know that I will be one of the first in line to see the movie and will, without a doubt, be instantly 7 years old again when I watch it. I can’t wait!

Dan
Official Statisitian and Tattoo Consultant of NTBTWK

[1] Although, for the life of me I don’t understand who wouldn’t want to read about that! Go Stats!
[2] Copyright!
[3] I’d do the math, because I’m all I-love-Math-all-the-time, except I’m a little rough due to the beer consumption from the previous eve. Hence, you’ll have to forgive my laziness for not calculating the appropriate age.
[4] Both fantastic reads. Of course, I think the latter holds more value to me than the former.
[5] Check out the trailer here: http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/wherethewildthingsare/

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#7 – e-audiobooks at the library!w00t!

Did you know that you can get free audiobooks at the LIBRARY?  As in audiobooks that you can put on your iPod?  As in free?

iPod iPod by jakerome.I discovered this totally by accident just the other day. I had just finished listening to one audiobook on CD1 and went to the VPL catalogue online to look up another book and noticed that in addition to book, e-book and CD audiobook format, the book I was looking for was also available in  “EAUDIO” format. And clicking that link took me to a whole new “eCatalogue” where I could download all sorts of e-audiobooks!

The entry for any given book tells you if the file will work on PCs and/or Macs, if you are allowed to burn it to a CD and/or put it on your iPod and if it’s available in WMA and/or MP3 format.  Also, you can’t download the file if someone else already has it out – I’m guessing this is due to the licensing of the audiobooks because obviously it’s not like if one person downloads the file it physically isn’t still in the library.  Anyway, if the title is available, you check it out for a given number of days and then you can download it. There’s also software you can download that will allow you to transfer the file to your iPod (if this is allowed for a given title). And once your time limit is up, the file becomes inactivated (essentially, this is like you’ve “returned” the book to the library).

In conclusion, I <3 the library.  I mean, they already combine two of my favourite things – books and free.  Free audiobooks on my iPod just makes them that much better!

1Since I now spend ~1 hr a day in my car driving two and from work, I’m on a big audiobook kick. It makes me feel like I’m getting some use of that time.

Image credit: Jackrome on Flickr.