Heading East

Posted in Miscellaneous on January 31st 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: In a few hours I fly to Toronto to attend and present at the OLA Superconference. I will be in Toronto for four days. On Saturday afternoon I fly to Winnipeg to spend a few days there before returning to Edmonton. Time in Winnipeg will be spent visiting relatives, going to dim sum on Sunday morning, watching the Super Bowl with friends over pizza and beer later that day, spending time with my folks, and sleeping.

Tonight I had dinner with seven others at Parkallen Restaurant, which features Lebanese cuisine. Garlic prawns were followed by linguini topped with chicken breast over a garlic-based tomato sauce, and blueberry and vanilla creme brulée for dessert. Most of the others in attendance were members of the Edmonton theatre community. I was invited by one of them to join in, and had a great time.


Posted in Library, Random Thoughts, Travel on January 29th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: This week is the first of three very busy ones in my life. Tomorrow I deliver the first of six lectures, to a group of 82 4th-year mechanical engineering design students. On Wednesday I fly to Toronto for to attend and present at the OLA Superconference (see Sat 9:05 am, #1722.) Upon my return, I will be teaching five more engineering-related classes, and on Feb 22, perform a concert with Amelia, for which I need to rehearse considerably beforehand. In the midst of all this, I have not had much time to begin working as the NINT Librarian. Last week, I did spend some time there, meeting more people and signing more documents. The office space I will be sharing at NINT will not be available until mid-week, which is when I fly to Toronto. Subsequent to my return, I will settle in and begin more official duties.

Deadwood Podcast Site

Posted in Deadwood, Real Deadwood Podcast on January 26th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: Do you love Deadwood as much as I do? Then welcome to the motherlode: my pal Debi sent me a link to this totally brilliant site, The Read Deadwood Podcast, which features audio and video clips, a blog, and more. The photos section is great, and includes shots from the Mt Moriah Cemetery, where Will Bill, Calamity Jane, and others are buried, and the Deadwood actors visit. Love it!

Also, here is a link to The Real Deadwood Podcast With Paul Dennis from FeedBurner.

The Nano Life

Posted in nanotechnology, Natl-Inst-For-Nanotechnology, NINT on January 18th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: It was made official today. Effective immediately, I am now the librarian for the National Institute for Nanotechnology, aka the NINT Librarian. The position is a one-year, half-time secondment from my current position. The new NINT building won’t open until May 2006, but NINT itself has been on campus since 2001, operating out of the sixth floor of ECERF, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Research Facility. Much has yet to be worked out, not the least of which is what kind of services I will be providing, as well as office space, security clearance (this is a federal facility, jointly sponsored by the province and the university), and a breakdown of time between the SciTech Library and NINT. When NINT moves into the new building in May, I will be along for the ride.

This will be exciting. It is a very new development for me, literally – only yesterday the mechanics were put in motion, documents signed, introductions made, etc. What is NINT? An excerpt from its research overview:

The focus of the National Institute for Nanotechnology’s (NINT) research program is integration – the combination of separate nano-scale devices and materials into complex nanosystems that are connected the outside world. NINT explores the integration, at the molecular level, of nature’s most powerful nano-devices such as proteins, lipids, and other biological structures made from ‘soft’ organic material, with crystalline semiconductors, metals, and catalysts made from inorganic ‘hard’ materials. The connection of natural biological or synthetic bio-inspired structures with electronics and information systems will lead to new and extremely powerful tools and technology platforms with broad application in the life sciences, medicine, materials science, and electronics and computation.

Stay tuned. When I know more, I’ll let you know.

Stressed Out Truthiness

Posted in Stephen-Colbert, stress, The-Colbert-Report, truthiness on January 12th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: I don’t remember working harder or feeling more stressed at work than the past few weeks. Apparently things are worse for my colleagues in the UK, where a new study “suggests that being a librarian induces more stress than working for the emergency services, driving a 125mph express, or teaching a class of ill-behaved children.” Or is it really? The author of the study, Saqib Saddiq is a consultant with a recruitment company. He notes: “It seems they are sick of being stuck between the same shelves of books all day. They also found their work repetitive and unchallenging, and overall had very little job satisfaction. Although police officers and firefighters find themselves in stressful situations, they are at least able to get out and about, and there is much more variety in their work.”

My educated guess is that he interviewed circulation and shelving staff, and considered every employee in the library to be a librarian – just like everyone in a lab coat in a hospital is a doctor. I’ve spent half a day shelving books myself from time to time, and am aware that done full time, it would be excrutiatingly boring. I remember my cataloguing professor in library school telling our class that the Library of Congress had full-time card filers working there for decades. I’ve worked as a librarian for 27 years, and while the stress level is high, the work is never boring nor repetitive. As for being stuck between the same shelves of books all day, I’d be surprised if I’m in the book stacks more than once or twice a month.

.: Congrats to Stephen Colbert, who in “The Wørd” segment of the first episode of his brilliant show, The Colbert Report, returned the word “truthiness” into the mainstream – watch the video segment here. Truthiness, a word dating back as far as 1824, was voted the 2005 Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society. The best coverage of the path of truthiness from its appearance on the debut Oct 17 2005 episode of The Colbert Report to the 2005 Word of the Year is at Language Log. Start with Truthiness or Trustiness?, and follow through to Colbert Fights for Truthiness.

The Wikipedia entry for truthiness provides some background and history, yet opens with the line, “”Truthiness” is a term invented by Stephen Colbert as the subject of a feature called The Wørd…”, which is incorrect, as noted above.

Make It Snow, Number One, and Get Lost

Posted in Weather on January 11th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: Of course, within hours of my previous post, it snowed in Edmonton. It was a light dusting, not enough to cover lawns, but the white stuff nonetheless. I’ll have pictures soon.

.: Did you watch Lost tonight, Episode #34, The 23rd Psalm? The element of science fiction was introduced – the “monster”, never seen but in the background in a number of episodes, appears to Eko and the Hobbit Charlie in the jungle. While Charlie sits in a tree, swirling black smoke, seemingly sentient and emitting a deep curdling techno-noise, emerges from the distant trees following two explosions, moving very fast and strong enough to destroy a tree in front of it as it speeds to within inches of Eko, then stopping on a virtual, airborne dime, hovering in front of him. The camera glides through the smoke as split-second images from Eko’s past appear from within the black cloud – is the smart smoke reading Eko’s mind, and sending the images back to the mother ship? After a few more seconds, it retreats at high speed and disappears back into the forest.

So this is what snatched the pilot from the cockpit and killed him, rustled the trees in the first episode, and tried to grab Locke and drag him away in another episode? I waited six weeks to see the big scary monster revealed to be black smoke? Might we see the monolith from 2001 in an upcoming episode as well? The creators of the show have (apparently) stated that the story would not have an sf angle as it unfolds. Well, unless there is a brilliant scientist, inventor, or engineer hiding on the island in an undisclosed location, or the black smoke is related to the Dharma Initiative (I know, it probably is), start the Hugo nomination voting now.

Suspend thy disbelief, my friends, the show can only get weirder and less believable (even with the required suspension of disbelief in the first place.) At the opening of the preceding (recap) episode tonight, the tail of the plane was shown slamming, and I mean SLAMMING into the ocean water at a speed that would have killed most if not everyone on board (assuming anyone could have survived the plane splitting apart in the air in the first place, and the subsequent descent of its parts into the ocean.) Instead, we accept that most survived without a scratch. (Remember the hijacked 767 that was forced to land on the ocean surface near the Comoros Islands in 1996? Six of the twelve crew members and 119 of the 163 passengers died. The crash was caught on video – watch it, and it becomes very difficult to accept the premise of Lost.) What’s happened to Danielle, the nutbag French woman? How is Desmond doing since he split the underground bunker to go hiking? Did a polar bear eat him? How are the sharks with the Dharma logo doing these days, and what happened to the Deliverance extras who kidnapped Walt at the end of Season One?

Part of me wants to think this is brilliant writing and a great story, but another part of me wants to slap the writers silly for adding so much improbability to the many threads in the show, which is becoming one multi-year cocktease. And yes, dammit, I will keep watching Lost.

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