What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

Recently Viewed

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 30 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Librarian Avengers, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 273
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
Erica Olsen works in a digital library at Cornell University as the User Experience Designer on an IT team.
Statistics for Librarian Avengers

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 5
1. Librarian Avengers on Pinterest

As a middle-aged mom, I’m contractually obligated to spend 10% of my week repinning things on Pinterest. Librarian Avengers has benefited, since there are plenty of librarians running around posting cool stuff that I can point at. It’s certainly simpler than actually creating original content.

Therefore, in support of the gender-disproportionate ladynerds at Pinterest’s main headquarters up the road, enjoy my Librarian Avengers board:

  • thepinakes: zinepavi
  • From Beyond the Unkn
  • Seriously, this happ
  • Molly qualifies as a
  • Boxcar Children tatt
  • Love this sign!
  • Long Overdue Notecar
  • .
  • Behind the Scenes at
  • Zoroaster, Clavis Ar
  • A Fascinating Short
  • American soldiers in
  • The San Francisco Pu
  • 44 Stock Photos That
  • Libraries are vital
  • State Law Library in
Follow Me on Pinterest

The post Librarian Avengers on Pinterest appeared first on Librarian Avengers.

0 Comments on Librarian Avengers on Pinterest as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
2. Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City

I am from Flint, Michigan.

I was born and raised in a crappy little city perched on the edge of a dying industry. The ominous creaking sounds coming from below sounded like a pretty clear warning, so I got the hell out. I graduated from a halfway-decent suburban high school in a district that my parents fought like hell to keep me in, renting claptrap houses on the edge of the boundary line. I left with a few AP credits, a 1986 Chevy Nova, and a seriously fucked up attitude. Being from Flint was important to me. I thought it conveyed important information to the outside world, information about my work ethic, my disappointments, my belief in the higher power of Buick Automotive.

Flint had helped win the War. My grandpa dropped out of school to help design the M18 Hellcat Tank for Buick, trading in a career as an architect for the promise of a pension and a world free of Nazis.

Flint had started the labor movement. My dad was a proud union representative, joining generations of men and women inspired by the Great Sitdown Strike to restore the power balance between owner and worker. He would sing Woody Guthrie’s song down the echoing hallway during tense negotiations. Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union. I’m sticking to the union, till the day I die.

My family stayed. Flint crumbled. Everyone who could afford to moved away. My suburban school district installed metal detectors. I went to graduate school and met people who had never heard of a carbureted engine. I’d come back home for holidays, dragging bemused boyfriends and waving around my new words, new ideas, big opinions. I’d come home to re-hear the stories that had defined me. Funny stories of disasters too big not to laugh at. People doomed by their own stupidity. Companies collapsing from their own greed. Fights at basketball games. People shooting out the lights on cop cars. Things falling off of trucks. Apocalyptic decisions made by people entrusted with our public good. Flint stories.

Recently, one of my neighbors wrote a book filled with his own Flint stories. Gordon Young lives a few blocks away in my new hometown of San Francisco. Oddly, we have never met. He went to the other suburban school district – those southside swine that were always beating us at quiz bowl – and left about ten years before I did. He’s been writing a blog called Flint Expatriates, and a few years ago he did this weird thing. He tried to go home.

The book is called Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City. Gordon writes about life in Flint and San Francisco, often through a lens of real estate. He has gone through the process of trying to buy houses in both cities, a testament to his tenacity and possibly some kind of undiagnosed brain injury. Anyway, you should read it because it’s awesome and it says many of the things that should be said about Flint. The ending is really strong, and I found myself saying “hell yes” out loud a few times. Leaving Flint seems to have given him the perspective he needed to make some peace with the goddamned place.

You may have noticed, I’m still searching.

0 Comments on Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. Thoughts on 37

According to the calendar and math, I just turned 37 years old. This meets most definitions of adulthood. I’m a parent, and a wife. I have a professional portfolio with 15 years worth of stuff in it. I’m employable and pretty much have my shit together. Of course, none of this means a thing. I’m the same dumbass I was in college.

As I’m constantly reminding my daughter (who is 2 and concerned with such things) we get a little bigger every day until we grow up. For her, that’s enough. For me, growing up is an ongoing campaign.

After childhood, an extensive support network surrounding the products we buy encourages us to spend our energy trying to look and act like the people we briefly were in our early 20s. The desire to grow up is subsumed by a need to stop growing or changing.

I started dying my hair to cover up grey when I was 24. My fair skin and fear of the sun got me a brief reprieve from wrinkles. General immaturity and bad impulse control made me seem younger than my age. Postponing motherhood helped as well. I put myself on pause.

When I became pregnant, I stopped dying my hair. Weight gain and bloat changed my face, and I was too damned tired to indulge in any silly nonsense. Everything hurt and I aged ten years in a few months. I was still the same dumbass, but without the honors and privileges awarded to youth. There was some mitigating churn around “oh look a pregnant lady how sweet” but it didn’t kick in for six months and was offset by vomiting and crippling depression.

Some time has passed, and I’m suddenly 37. Parenthood has reshaped my priorities. I have become Erica’s Earning Potential, Erica’s Ability to Absorb Interruption, Erica’s Immune System, and Erica’s Ability to Feed Her Family.

Endless undignified tasks arise when you’ve chosen to subsume personal ambition to create an environment where a potentially decent interesting child can grow and exist. There are no awards, there is no press coverage, and everyone involved forgets the details.

This isn’t the narcissism of Midwestern modesty (“Oh it’s nothing, here let me get that. Well maybe someday when I’m rich.”) or a perversion of patriarchal beauty standards. My sudden need for mid-afternoon naps and my enduring relationship with Ibuprofen and the heating pad argue against anything so energetic. Being punk rock is a lot of work. This is different. This is mom jeans and uncombed hair.

This is some organic freerange not-giving-a-shit.

I don’t try to look younger unless it assists the new priorities which are focused around people other than myself. I clean up ok, and I’ll do the thing where I get into lady drag when I go to job interviews or meetings with people who aren’t my work bros. I brush my teeth so my husband will kiss me, and I continue to fool him into thinking I’m pinup-hot.

But seriously? That food stain on my shirt is going to stay there. And I’m going to look right at you and talk anyway. I’m going to have opinions and expect a response even though I’m not wearing a particularly coordinated outfit because that’s what I’ve gained by becoming my own age. I’m not on pause anymore, and I didn’t lose anything of value.

I’m still the same dumbass I was in college, so why shouldn’t I claim the column of space around my body and fill it with something useful? I’m not here to be decorative. I don’t have to be, and neither do you.

So here’s to 37 and the freedom it brings. Here’s to being alive for no particular reason and not mattering much. Here’s to reeling around doing your best. And here’s to writing about it, because questioning that urge doesn’t help much either.

Good to be here, everyone. Hope you are well.

0 Comments on Thoughts on 37 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
4. Librarian Rave Mix

Librarians: You know how it goes.

You are out partying with your librarian friends. Suddenly you realize that your gathering requires a suitable soundtrack. A library-themed soundtrack. Indeed, without the proper music, the event will be a disaster!

It could happen. The worst case scenario is sobering: everyone ends up hopping around to the They Might be Giants’ album “Flood” until the police show up and ticket you with a noise violation.*

Using a combination of technology and powerful query-typing skills, I have SOLVED THIS PROBLEM. Introducing Dancing on the Reference Desk, a free playlist dedicated to libraries, librarians, and their interests.

Including such timeless classics as Ch-Check it Out by the Beastie Boys, and Lady Writer by Dire Straits make sure your next librarian rave is a success with this excellent compilation.

Note: I’m not associated with Spotify, but I do think they are pretty awesome. If you end up using this soundtrack let me know. I would love to attend some rocking librarian parties vicariously.
Credits: I dictated this entire blog post to my iPhone via Dragon Dictate while spooning nutrient-rich goop into the baby’s mouth. Special thanks to Jenny Klumpp who provided numerous excellent suggestions.
* This actually happened. I was in grad school hopping around with my fellow nerds, watching the Muppet Show and listening to TMBG. We chipped in to pay the ticket. This was in my experience hands-down the Dorkiest. Police Intervention. Ever.

Related posts:

  1. Hot Librarian Necklace
  2. Virgin/Whore = Librarian/Librarian
  3. Rock Rock Rock n’ Roll Librarian

0 Comments on Librarian Rave Mix as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
5. The Librarian Avengers Film Rating System

Dear Film industry: Your metadata is not granular enough. The MPIAA ratings G, PG, PG-13, and R do not fulfill my needs.

I need information relevant to my particular disinterests. I need to know ahead of time if a movie contains elements that I consider unacceptable. I’m not talking about sex, drugs, or violence. I need to know if a movie contains cannibalism, synthesizers, or Jim Carrey.

Here is the film rating system we really need:

a.png Rated A for An Animal is Harmed

As far as I’m concerned, decapitated human heads can roll across the screen but if a Golden Retriever gets a hurty paw you had better warn me up front.

b.png Rated B for British Accent Faked by American

I’m looking at you, Andie MacDowell.

c.png Rated C for Creepy Child Singing

You know things are going to get bad when a little girl starts pushing flowers around and singing quietly to herself.

d.pngRated D for Dialog by Committee

“Oh aspiring teen heart-throb, I am attracted to your emergent yet non-threatening sexuality!”

e.png Rated E for Escape in front of Fireball

You know that scene in every action movie ever where the actors run very fast from some sort of physics phenomenon which approaches at exactly running speed? Rated E.

f1.png Rated F for Fun Filled Frolic

If a review or worse the movie poster itself describes a “fun filled frolic for the whole family”, Flee.

g.png Rated G for Grab My Hand

Oh no, that character is falling off a building! Grab my hand! DON’T LET GO!

h1.png Rated H for Hearts Pulled Out

A little warning before the monkey brains is all I ask.

i.png Rated I for Italian Stallion

Does this film contain excessive amounts of Sylvester Stallone or Jim Carrey? Librarian Avengers have determined that it will be Rated I or J.

j.png Rated J for Jim Carrey

I need advanced notice so I can start running.

Rated K for Keyboard Hacks Network in 2 Clicks

Did you know space aliens use Mac peripheral drivers?

l.png Rated L for Lead Actors in Real-Life Romance

Real-life chemistry rarely translates well to the big screen.

0 Comments on The Librarian Avengers Film Rating System as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
6. How FreeFile Almost Cost Me Plenty

Let’s talk for a moment about why I misfiled my tax extension. Melty Jello brain aside, bad software design almost cost my little family $2,500.


When I’m not wrestling a one-year-old into tiny shoes, I’m a User Experience Designer. This means I work with software companies to create easy-to-understand interfaces.

It also means that when I screw up my tax extension, I look very carefully at the software path that got me there.

Dramatic Reenactment:

It was April. I needed to file an extension. Like most Bay Area tech nerds, I hate mail. I consider it a personal affront if I have to print out a form, write an address, locate stamps, and put a letter in the whatsit…mailbox…thing. Naturally, my first step was to search irs.gov for “file extension online“.

Problem one: Too many results

The IRS site is too damned helpful. There were 948 results for my search. Many results were press release or blog type articles hinting at the existence of online extension filing, but containing no direct links. I wanted to find one or two good matches. Instead, I found a sea of irrelevance.

Problem two: Too many names

I hopped down a bunny trail for about ten minutes, searching for a feature alternately referred to as “E-file an extension”, “Free file”, “Freefile”, “Free Fillable Forms”, “Free File Fillable Forms”, “Free Federal Extension”, “Form 4868″, “Traditional Free File”, and “IRS e-file”.

Problem three: Inconsistent design

I eventually landed on a modern-looking site that seemed likely. I clicked “Get Started” and wandered through four increasingly less-well-designed pages which jumped from site to site, forcing me to read and parse options despite having already told the system what I wanted.

Problem three: Asshole account requirement

The eventual winner was a page called “Free File Fillable Forms” which required me to create an account and update my Flash plugin. I was already logged in to irs.gov, but that didn’t count. I created “a password that is different than my User ID, between 8 and 32 characters, and contains at least 1 number and 1 symbol”. All the eye-rolling gave me a headache.

Problem four: Misleading email

I received a spammy looking ALL CAPS email telling me my account had been created. I filled out the IRS extension form, which was the easiest part of the process. I submitted, and received another spammy ALL CAPS email saying “Your federal return was successfully transmitted”.

At this point, I fell on the bed and whined to my husband for several minutes about information architecture. Then I fell asleep, secure in the certainty that I had filed an automatic extension. Taxes wouldn’t be bothering us for a few more months, by which time we would certainly be getting more sleep.


0 Comments on How FreeFile Almost Cost Me Plenty as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. The IRS was kind to us

Yes, that was my letter from the IRS.

I misfiled our tax extension. My husband, who is hilarious, wrote a letter to the IRS asking for clemency due to new-baby-induced Jello Brain. The IRS, who are apparently also hilarious, quoted him in their response.

I scanned the letter and he put it on Facebook. It went viral.

That afternoon during a lull in the daily baby-management, I hopped on Reddit to post the letter and discovered that someone had put it up hours earlier. Our funny IRS letter was now at the top of Reddit’s front page.

Over 1,800 people left comments and opinions. Everyone was pretty nice and we enjoyed the discussion. Some IRS employees even chimed in, talking about their jobs and lives.

This is the nature of the Internet. Something strikes a chord in our collective subconscious, and we share it with ourselves at the speed of thought.

I think we are all a little afraid of the IRS.

They seem to speak a slightly different language. They use phrases like: “A nonbusiness bad debt must be treated as a short-term capital loss” and look at us expectantly.

Every year they make us do math. They know our financial secrets, and they remind us that our money will be spent by people we probably didn’t elect, on things we might not like.

They could put us in jail. They took down Al Capone.

As a result, people yearn for a bit of humor from the IRS. I think any reminder that the government is made of people who are themselves parents and taxpayers is welcome news.

Anything to break the tension.

Related posts:

  1. How FreeFile Almost Cost Me Plenty Let’s talk for a moment about why I misfiled my...
  2. Parenthood by Percentages In case anyone is interested in the relative effects of...
  3. A Parent’s Life as a Video Game My job is in the video game industry, so I...

0 Comments on The IRS was kind to us as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
8. Kaiser Perminente’s website causes heartburn, sleeplessness

Yesterday I tweeted:

The Kaiser Permanente site is pretty, but someone organized it using their butt.

I had just spent an hour on their member website trying to set my daughter’s primary care doctor. The links I followed did not lead to useful content. I was frustrated. I wrote:

I officially volunteer to redesign the Kaiser site. For free. Just so I don’t have to use it in its current state. Call me.

And I got a response! Sort of. In the form of an autoreply directing me to the Contact Web Manager form.

I’m pretty certain I can’t re-architect a site in a fixed-width six line text box in under 1000 characters.

Still, I tried. Here’s my cranky critique, crammed into a tiny webform textbox after a day spent with a teething baby and no clue who her doctor is:

  1. Kaiser. You break my heart. Your site architecture is spaghetti.
  2. Link titles should match their destinations.
  3. Text should be optimized for the web. Cut the wordcount by 75%. Seriously, cut the “If you prefer, you may call us” wordy bullshit. It actively prevents people from getting the information they need.
  4. Dynamic, member-specific content like records and messages should not try to ship you off to one size fits all “resource” pages.
  5. Who is your user? Members? Potential Members? Employers? Identify common use cases and count the number of steps and breakpoints.
  6. “Are you an Employer?” is not a helpful architectural node.
  7. I can tell you sprung for the bulk membership to clipart.com, so kudos on the pretty pictures but they eat up most of the space if you insist on a 10 year old fixed width layout. Grow some CSS.
  8. Seriously. I love Kaiser, but this site hurts me.


I’ll keep you guys updated if anything exciting happens as a result of my whiny ranting. I’m sure there are fifty good reasons why their site sucks the way it does, but as a user I simply don’t care. I want a big red “do the thing I want” button. And possibly a pony.

No related posts.

0 Comments on Kaiser Perminente’s website causes heartburn, sleeplessness as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
9. South Detroit

The 70′s band Journey is kind of a big deal out here. Apparently they are from the Bay area, and there is a San Francisco civic statute requiring all radio stations to play Journey songs every three hours. Or, so I gather.

While doing a deep textual analysis of the song Don’t Stop Believin’ (sic) this morning, I noticed the phrase “Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit.”

As a Michigan native and Flint Expat (good blog, btw) my librarian senses began tingling. South…Detroit?
South Detroit.

Let’s just check the map.

Detroit mapDetroit…
Yep, there it is. Suspicion confirmed! South Detroit is Windsor. Also known to Geographers as Canada.

I guess that Midnight Train going Anywhere was the Via Rail, huh?

(cue guitar solo)

Related posts:

  1. Labor Day I’m going to Flint tomorrow. I’ll be in town through...
  2. Flintstyle Friends, we need to have a little talk. Judging from...
  3. Never move again These chair-bookcases make my librarian spidey senses tingle. I’ll take...

0 Comments on South Detroit as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. An Introvert’s Guide to Writing

Introvert,  extrovert, or false dichotomy?

I’ve been baring my soul and cockeyed schemes on the internet since 1997. I tell total strangers here on this site about my life, my thoughts on work, and the things that bring me joy. I’ve had two jobs where I acted professionally. I love making strangers smile. On Sundays, I invite everyone I’ve ever met to my home for BYOBrunch, and bask in the glow of a full room of happy people. I have sung badly in public, danced at any opportunity, and told jokes in front of large crowds. Very little embarrasses me.


But I spend most of my life absorbing data. I work behind the scenes on applications that are the digital equivalent of sand mandalas. At my best, my effort becomes invisible, unnoticed. I love silence. My favorite vacation activity is walking through strange cities alone, or snorkling, both ways of existing in the divine silence of another world. I curl up like a cat under a blanket to recharge. When I had my daughter, I didn’t leave the house for four months. I order takeout by internet rather than phone. I rarely use my phone as a phone. I avoid answering emails, even from good friends.


I think the introvert/extrovert dichotomy attempts to explain seemingly incongruous tendencies that can arise in social animals. Our social dynamic and learned responses reflect a variety of alpha- or herd instincts. I would be  surprised if most people completely embody one or the other.

In related news, I’m sitting in the Noe Valley Library courtyard, and a group of middle-school kids are in front of me, giggling and making prank calls. Extroversion? Anonymous herd aggression as bonding mechanism?

Time to get up and go to the coffeeshop? Yes.

Related posts:

  1. Speaking of sloth… Here’s some baby sloths. (thanks Kafkaesque) These sloths remind me...
  2. An Engineer’s Guide to Cats This is an excellent study of the many aspects of...
  3. Rearranging the books, playlists I can’t sort out my head properly, so I’m sorting...

0 Comments on An Introvert’s Guide to Writing as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
11. Tales from the Reference Desk

Hey gang,

I’ve been funemployed for several weeks, and am rapidly losing my mind. I could use some perspective.

The new crop of students must be coming into the library to do last-minute midterm research around now. Remind me what I’m missing by skipping out on my library career to make software?

I declare this an open thread. Gimme some funny library stories!

Related posts:

  1. That Reference Compulsion So my friend Clay (of reference desk fame) and I...
  2. Monorail kitteh @ library Certain, especially awesome public libraries have live-in cats. I suspect...
  3. Plagued by reference questions… I haven’t worked at a reference desk for almost ten...

0 Comments on Tales from the Reference Desk as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
12. Face front, true believers!

Face front, true believers!

I love the way Stan Lee addressed his readers with such an intimate and glorifying phrase. True believers! Sure, you were just reading a Spiderman comic book, but he implied that this act joined you with a like-minded group, and certified your character as loyal and faithful.

I poked around looking for an appropriate “Face front” image, and found this poster in the Soviet Museum‘s digital collections. If you have a bit of time, check out the collection of pro-Lenin fairy tales.  I also found an associated grumpy thread on Metafilter, comparing the ubiquity of this style of propaganda art in Soviet Russia to something like garish ads for fast food and grocery store mailers.

Face front, true believers! Today is beautiful, and we will face it with the resolution to do good.


Related posts:

  1. Klingon Fairy Tales I’m a bit late with this, but here’s one for...
  2. True Romance! I popped in to the Tompkins County Public Library yesterday...
  3. Advantages to dating Librarians The webcomic xkcd has the goods on librarians this week:...

0 Comments on Face front, true believers! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. portfolio test post

test post

Related posts:

  1. Drunken blog post #3 The Thursday night Linden Lab whisky tasting has degraded in...

0 Comments on portfolio test post as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. Tube Food

My young daughter is eating solid food. She has two lower teeth, which she uses to great effect, scraping away like a reverse-squirrel. This is an exciting time for my husband and I, since we get to share some of our favorite foods with her. We also get to see these favorite foods converted into sneeze-splatter and spread across the front of our work shirts. Know this: Bibs are not just for infants.

After a few weeks of experimenting with toddler-cuisine, I’ve changed the way I shop for groceries. Instead of perusing the shelves of my local organic butcher, thinking “hmm would this hanger steak would be good pan-seared with truffle salt?”, I now think things like: “I wonder what other tube-shaped food this Safeway carries?” and, “Oh wow, you could really get a grip on those cheese sticks.”

As a freshly-minted Bay Area foodie, Elizabeth is more pencil sharpener than connoisseur.

As a freshly-minted Bay Area foodie, Elizabeth is more pencil sharpener than connoisseur. We hand her a Morningstar Farms veggie sausage when she wakes up, and listen for the high pitched buzzing sound as she fragments it into a light rain of sausage-shavings which patter to the floor. We then lift our soy-sawdust covered child out of the highchair, shake her up and down, and deposit her back in the living room where she carries out her daily experiments.

Bagels are her favorite. Despite its mammoth size, a cinnamon-raisin bagel is easy to grip in both hands and wave around. After a few minutes eating the proportional equivalent of a telephone pole, she holds the bagel over her head and shrieks in delight, praising her sky-gods for the gift of carbohydrates.

she holds the bagel over her head and shrieks in delight, praising her sky-gods

At the end of a long day’s eating, it has been my distinct pleasure to discover bagel parts at the bottom of my bra, where they have been covertly deposited by Elizabeth during one of her periods of arm-waving and violent twisting. I believe she has come to view my cleavage as some sort of pantry for the deposit and withdrawal of delicious food items. Rather than admitting defeat and covering my lingerie with contact paper, I’ve decided to try and interest her in vegetables, which I hope will be gentler and more refreshing in the knockers-region.

Related posts:

  1. Food poisoning (Part Two) One of the things I managed to learn in Librarian...
  2. Books for busy mums and other humans Reading has been a challenge lately, due to new baby...
  3. Top Five Things I Have Learned About Babies My daughter, Elizabeth West Firment, was born in early November....

0 Comments on Tube Food as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
15. Data munging

Recently I’ve been importing the ancient Librarian Avengers archives to live within WordPress. Because the site goes back to…hrm… 1997, there’s some data munging to do.

Right now I’m concerning myself with the period after Graduate School, when I moved to Ithaca, NY for an ostensibly-cool digital library fellowship. I couldn’t talk about how much I hated it at the time so the entries are mostly tangential to the work I was doing, but there’s still some fun stuff.

Importing ancient blog posts involves a bunch of tagging, titling, category-setting, and general modernization. I’ve been progressively making my way through the old posts, adding images, fixing spelling mistakes, and generally adding a bit of polish.

Part of the reason I’m taking on data scrubbing as my One Designated Personal Thing to Do this evening, is that today has been a study in helplessness. My daughter has a (small) fever. It’s the first time she’s been sick, and I’m trying to direct my need to control something (anything!) in a positive direction.

Also, cleaning data is pretty therapeutic after some of the body fluids I’ve encountered recently.

Related posts:

  1. Shh. “The Library” is the subject of the Freebase Data Mob I’m a librarian by ethnicity, if not profession these days,...
  2. Another Data Mob at Freebase – Ethnicity Wanna enrich some data? Got OCD? Tired of trying to...
  3. Freebase Hack Day II: The Return of Hack Day Librarian? Data junkie? Obsessive compulsive? Come to the Freebase hack...

0 Comments on Data munging as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16. Things that now qualify as “me time”

My commute to work
Taking a shower
The three block walk to return my library books
Leaning on my similarly exhausted husband and staring vacantly at something on a screen


Related posts:

  1. Oxford shannon Says: October 18th, 2005 at 1:47 pm e Awesome!...
  2. Spain! Ham! Spain! Thanks to the noble efforts of our catsitter friends,...
  3. Freebase Hack Day II: The Return of Hack Day Librarian? Data junkie? Obsessive compulsive? Come to the Freebase hack...

0 Comments on Things that now qualify as “me time” as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. A Parent’s Life as a Video Game

My job is in the video game industry, so I tend to think of life in these terms. For example, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I realized that pregnancy is essentially a really immersive resource-conservation RPG. I was always asking myself questions like: “Do I pick up this stuff on the floor, or do I save my Bending Over points for later?”

Recently several of my coworkers became parents, so in celebration of my fecund and nerdy cohort, here’s a description of my last week written entirely in video game terms:

Select character

  • Warrior (Battle baroque parental leave laws)
  • Wizard (Create nutritious meals for baby using own body)
  • Rogue (Sneak around to accomplish things while the baby sleeps)
  • Paladin (The power of the Coffee God will protect your party)

New player tutorial

Read Kidwrangling by Kaz Cooke, Superbaby by Jenn Berman, and The Cat in the Hat over and over and over and over


Find outfits for upcoming family photo. Avoid decade-indicating fashion or hairstyles.

Parental achievement unlocked!

Raffi song stuck in head for more than four days.


How long can you deflect drool from your work clothes? GO!

Level up!

Child can now turn pages of a book. Good work!

Save game

Improve your long-term memory by adding minutes of sleep during train commute


Enter “Up up down down left right start” in the deductions section of your tax form

Related posts:

  1. Yahoo! Games picks up video game based on Macauly Library sounds NYC game developers Large Animal Games have created a downloadable...
  2. A nerdygirl review of the Game Developers Conference Greetings from an ethnic librarian working in the games industry!...
  3. SXSW Interactive 2009 – Funologists live and in person: Guerilla Game Research Happy news! I was invited to be a panelist at...

0 Comments on A Parent’s Life as a Video Game as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
18. Library Tourism: The San Francisco Main Branch

I’ve escaped my parental bonds for a moment, thanks to my husband, so I have a few minutes to tell you about my recent trip to the SF Public library. The big one downtown. The one I visited a long time ago and left, convinced that public librarianship in a large city belonged to the realm of the nostril-less.

San Francisco has a Big Beautiful Library, located in the Civic Center across the street from City Hall. The building is full of glass and marble and echo-y ceilings, in the grandest tradition of main library excess. As a young library tourist, I had visited this landmark eager to see Library Done Right, and learn what can be made when budget constraints are erased and the architects are released from their fetters. Unfortunately, I had failed to consult with a resident when planning the walk there, and found myself entangled in The Tenderloin, SF’s most unpleasant neighborhood. I dodged madmen in wheelchairs and puddles of vomit for a few blocks, and arrived safe but shaken. Which is not to say that the special Tenderloin atmosphere ended when I went inside.

Air freshenerDue to its location, the SF Library Main branch has struggled with strange bedfellows. City Hall, the Opera, the Symphony, and a few lesser monuments surround the building, but the clientele and the smell remind you that the Tenderloin ends only a block away. Nine years ago, this meant the entire bottom two floors were permeated with Eau Du Armpit, and the best reading chairs were occupied by scruffy men with newspapers over their heads. This may have influenced my decision, upon moving to the city, to avoid the downtown branch entirely.

However! When Adorable Daughter and I visited the library two weeks ago (after some discreet nursing in the car) we encountered a cleaned-up building, with a less lived-in look. We visited the small soulless cafe downstairs, wrestled with the wireless (mommy has an iphone MMORPG problem), and found a nice browsing collection staffed by two friendly and incredibly overqualified librarians. The homeless problem seems to have abated somewhat, and I noticed security guards everywhere.

One of the things that prompted me to give it another try was an excellent article in the Chronicle announcing “the country’s first full-time psychiatric social worker stationed in a public library”. A quick google search reveals this to be a much-press-released, and apparently effective tactic on the part of SFPL to combat the library’s struggle with homeless patrons.  It might have been a coincidence, I’m just a single data point, but there did seem to be an improvement since my last visit.

If you want a reason to be grateful for your current job (assuming you aren’t an SF Public librarian), you might enjoy reading the many Yelp reviewers who have shared their encounters with some of the library’s pants-eschewing patrons. If you want to save thirty bucks on a newly-released hardback, you might enjoy the Main Branch’s science fiction collection.

The San Francisco Library Main Branch: Four stars. Would visit again.

Related posts:

  1. Library Tourism I visited my local Bernal Heights library branch this afternoon,...
  2. Add a Comment
19. Parenthood by Percentages

In case anyone is interested in the relative effects of a New Baby, I ran a few numbers this morning.

-65% Cussing
-50% Cups of Coffee Consumed
-98% Cups of Coffee Consumed While Still Warm
-98% Alcohol Consumed Before Childbirth
+98% Alcohol Consumed After Childbirth
+50% Loads of Laundry/Week
+100% Loads of Laundry Involving Poo
+350% Smiles from Strangers
+60% Visitors
+300% Visits to Library
+10% Upper Body Strength (12 pound weight)
+75% Breast Size
+30% Body Size
-5% Brain Size
-50% Sleep
-100% Uninterrupted Sleep
+200% Jokes About Sleep
+200% Jokes About Poo
+50% Actual Poo
+10% Unsolicited Advice
-10% Need For Unsolicited Advice per Weekly Age of Infant
+3000% Life/Injury Insurance
+25% Ominous Feeling That Adulthood Has Arrived
+100% Heart-stopping Baby Smiles

Related posts:

  1. Top Five Things I Have Learned About Babies My daughter, Elizabeth West Firment, was born in early November....
  2. Top Five Things I Have Learned About Babies My daughter, Elizabeth West Firment, was born in early November....
  3. 2:17am – U.S. election I should really go to bed instead of hitting refresh...

0 Comments on Parenthood by Percentages as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
20. Books for busy mums and other humans

Reading has been a challenge lately, due to new baby and the delirium that accompanies around-the-clock breastfeeding. On the other hand, it has taken me three months to be able to comfortably leave the house, so I’ve had quite a bit of downtime.

My favorite book that I’ve read lately is, appropriately, about raising happy infants. Superbaby, by Dr. Jenn Berman was a gift from my mom the librarian, and has been a great help. It is a compendium of research and useful information from a variety of sources. So rather than an exhaustive study of, say, the positive effects of using ASL as baby sign, it dedicates a nicely summarized chapter and moves along. For the attention deprived among us, it is a quick way to wade through a pile of information.

When I was pregnant, I read about 500 Terry Pratchett books. I was emotionally wrung-out, and they provided just the right balance of humor and comfortingly happy endings to keep me going. If you haven’t read any of the Discworld novels, I often recommend Small Gods, or Guards, Guards!, but you can start anywhere. If it were possible, I and almost everyone I know would like to give Terry Pratchett a hug for being such a nifty writer.

Connie Willis. I’ve been working my way through everything she has ever written, novels, short stories, novellas, introductions and interviews. I don’t usually obsess this much over reading an author’s full catalog, but Connie Willis shares many of the same qualities that make me enjoy Terry Pratchett, in addition to a fantastic grasp of European history and a charming tendency to always turn the Most Frustrating character into the means of Everything Working Out in the End.

If you haven’t read any Connie Willis, I suggest starting with the short story

0 Comments on Books for busy mums and other humans as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
21. Out in the daylight with a stroller

I’m sitting at a cafe with my infant daughter. I feel like a monster of productivity, having successfully left the house twice in one day, eaten actual meals, and avoided being covered in poo (for the time being).

Elizabeth is the daughter, three months old. She sleeps in the stroller I thought I would never use. As a non-parent, I had overlooked its function as a laptop/sweater/blanket/grocery/diaperbag-carrier, and had no understanding of the speed at which it knocks out a fussy baby.

The last three months have been a time of great change. I am clocking in at about one life lesson every three hours.

Recently I’ve learned:

  • To type fast and not muck about with formatting while the baby’s napping. Editing is not for parents.
  • If you can afford it, fresh fruit is always a worthwhile purchase.
  • That you can’t go for a walk in my neighborhood without tripping over a stroller or a border collie.
  • Sweden makes awesome baby equipment (Jané: the 4×4 truck of strollers)
  • If you join a clan and are online regularly at 3am, you can make lots of friends in Finland, and Norway.
  • Other Scandinavians mock Swedes out of some obscure national rivalry. The punchline of every joke is inevitably “Svensk”. If you understand this, please let me know.

Right, that’s it for now. Elizabear is waking up and we’ve got some major walking to do.

Related posts:

  1. Amish Pony Cart and a Premature Deploy oday was big and full. I’m tired, so here’s a...
  2. Things seen in New York… Man with a gun wrapped in a newspaper Diner called...

0 Comments on Out in the daylight with a stroller as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
22. Top Five Things I Have Learned About Babies

My daughter, Elizabeth West Firment, was born in early November. The last…ever since…has been a nonstop, nonsleep blur of boobs, love, fuss, and delirium. In the process, I have learned these five things:

  1. Ceiling fans are TV for babies.
  2. At week six, nursing goes from being a special woodchipper for your nipples to something fairly ok. Eventually, it will become rather pleasant, and you will be able to play World of Warcraft while feeding your child, like my friend Kelly’s wife does. I’m pretty sure she levels up faster by simultaneously breastfeeding and p0wning n00bz.
  3. The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play, so we sat in the house all that cold cold wet day.
  4. There is a 4am. It comes before 5am, which is that time  you read about once that precedes 6am. You do not have the right to a full night’s sleep. You have given that right to your baby, who may use it as she sees fit.
  5. Your baby’s smile generates a burst of hormones that if necessary will enable you to lift a car or cut out your own spleen.

    Photos are up on flickr. Thanks for all the casseroles!

    Related posts:

    1. Dark night of the soul i folks. It’s five am here. I’m in Gijon, Spain....
    2. List of Truths Patrick Stewart in The Tempest was the most amazing theatrical...
    3. 14 Weird things I’ve learned this week Queen Bees are expensive It’s damned difficult to find a...

    0 Comments on Top Five Things I Have Learned About Babies as of 1/1/1900
    Add a Comment
    23. The Typography of Greenwashing

    Instead of watching House episodes all day like a normal person, I spent one of my vacation days making a video about the media practice of greenwashing.

    According to the world’s only remaining viable encyclopedia, greenwashing is the “practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly.”

    I’m interested in the graphic design motifs that seem to pop up whenever a product wants to advertise itself as Good for the Environment. I was inspired by my hilarious friend Gus’s Media Show episode on greenwashing, and I started thinking about all the sans-serif fonts and burlap lining the shelves of my local organic grocery store.*

    This is my first video, and I was a bit nervous. I used iMovie to do the editing, and I slapped the whole thing together in an afternoon with the help of some coffee and a misplaced sense of social justice.

    I’d like to do more of this. If you guys have any suggestions for other ornery Librarian Avenger topics, I’d love to hear them.

    * I live in San Francisco. I patronize an organic grocery store. I don’t own a car or a tv. Live the stereotype!
    ** That’s Sister Rosetta Tharpe playing in the background, who is the boss of you.

    1 Comments on The Typography of Greenwashing, last added: 1/10/2010
    Display Comments Add a Comment
    24. Daily Hilarity

    Things today that made me laugh until I snorted:

      • Translating a boring work conversation into hula
      • Faygo Rock n Rye soda exploding in a Last Stand sort of way inside Chuck’s motorcycle case
      • Blurting out “stranger danger!” when surprise-hugged by my friend Rayne in the subway
      • Getting my butt handed to me by the office Galaga machine
      • My father-in-law’s introduction to the tapioca lumps in bubble tea
      • My new Frog Hat
      • Wearing my new Frog Hat on a video conference and demanding to be taken seriously

    TwitThis StumbleUpon Facebook email

    1 Comments on Daily Hilarity, last added: 12/4/2009
    Display Comments Add a Comment
    25. Vote for me on the SXSW Panel Picker

    Rock The Vote Poster

    I can’t be self-promotional all alone here, people. I need your help! Vote for meeeee!

    My proposal is up for voting right now on the South By Southwest Interactive Panel Picker. It’s a geek frenzy over there. Vote early and often.

    VOTE HERE (login required)

    Panel Proposal:

    Video Game Research: Failing Our Way to Victory

    Users are weird. They tell you one thing and do another. They click everywhere and read nothing. Erica Firment, a User Experience designer for Linden Lab/Second Life, chronicles fast and effective ways to make your software suck less by spending a few hours watching users fail.

    1. How can video games win by watching their players fail?
    2. What is video game user research?
    3. What do you mean by “watch users fail?”
    4. Can’t I just send out a survey? (NO!)
    5. Why are 3D world interfaces hard to design?
    6. What are some things in Second Life that got better by watching users fail?
    7. How does Second Life collect information?
    8. Why should developers and product managers invest in user research?
    9. What are some easy ways for me to do user research?
    10. What are some cheap ways for me to do user research?
    TwitThis StumbleUpon Facebook E-mail this story to a friend!

    1 Comments on Vote for me on the SXSW Panel Picker, last added: 8/17/2009
    Display Comments Add a Comment

    View Next 25 Posts