Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Who is that?

Okay, if that shirt and tie look incredible, the Open House had a winter theme, the shirt is black and white flannel check and the tie had snow men.

I am demonstrating to these folks how to download library books to their e-readers.

Monday, January 30, 2012

E-readers reprise

We had our annual Open House at the library Saturday, and my station was a demonstration of how to check out and download books to electronic readers and such things. A lot of people showed up just for that, I enjoyed it and feel pretty comfortable now with showing people how to use their Kindle as well as Nook, Kobo and so on.

Two things about the experience Saturday and in the last few weeks of trying to help people with the e-readers they got for Christmas, though, made me think that the distributors have a way to go to make this the best experience for their people.

One, Kindle especially seems to show up with insufficient instructions for registering and starting to use the reader. I realize that young people are born knowing what to do, but so many of our patrons are not computer savvy at all. When they open the box and discover essentially a 3X5 card that tells them pretty much what the buttons do, that is totally inadequate. This is the equivalent of giving someone a laptop, showing them how to more the pointing device and then leaving it up to them to figure everything else out. This needs major attention.

Two, all of these manufacturers need to make it clearer somehow that you cannot use the things without some access to the internet through WiFi or another connection. I had a lovely older woman whose daughter had given her a Nook so that she would not have to come into town in winter to get things to read. The lady does not even have a computer, which means she had to come to town to register the thing through a public access computer. Since she doesn't have a computer, she doesn't have an e-mail adress. And without an e-mail address, she cannot even complete the registration so she can start using the thing. Because her Nook is not a one that is really a mini-computer, she has to be able to download books onto a regular computer (which she does not have) and then transfer them to her Nook. This is easy, but in order to do it, you have to be able to download software to your own computer and register the account. This cannot be done on public access computers for the simple reason that privacy requirements make them erase everything every time someone finishes using them. I talked to her about working with her daughter, who has computers and so on, to solve this problem. But I know she is not the only one out there with this problem.

E-readers are great for people who live in the boonies and are not able to get into towns with bookstores or libraries all that often. But people in the boonies are also likely to be the ones without good internet access and, therefore, less likely to have e-mail. Nook, Kindle and their ilk need to make it clear when they sell these things that the customer will be able to use it. Otherwise they wind up with a lot of disappointed adults who were fooled by commercials into thinking the X-ray glasses would actually let them see through walls!

This is a good product! Don't let your own carelessness make it a customer service and PR nightmare.

Monday, January 23, 2012


It is snowing this morning -- expect no significant accumulation -- and I was watching the birds around the bird feeder. There were lots of finches and chickadees in the trees, and I saw a juncoe for the first time in a while. (Tom had recently noted their absence.) There were a couple of doves on the ground, which is pretty common around here.

Then I noticed a flurry of activity behind the base of the post, what looked like a squirrel having a seizure. At first I figured it was just trying to dig down in the snow to get more seeds, but then I realized it was too big for a squirrel and seemed to be fighting with something. Assuming it was two squirrels battling over a sunflower seed, I went out onto the deck. Turns out it was no squirrel, but what looked to me like a weasel with a small bird or animal in its mouth. I only had time to look at it before it turned and disappeared into a tunnel in the snow.

I looked up photos of weasels and think that must be what I had seen. Tom is hoping it will hang around and get rid of some of the red squirrels and mice.

Updates as events warrant.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy 4710!

January 23 is Chinese New Year. Or, perhaps more globally, lunar new year, since the Chinese are not the only people who use the lunar calendar. At any rate, have a great Year of the Dragon!

In contrast to European dragons, which are often considered evil, Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, hurricanes, and floods. The dragon is also a symbol of power, strength, and good luck.

May your 4710 be free of hurricanes and floods and filled with life-giving rain, power and strength to do good and blessings of all kinds.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


When Tom took off to plow and shovel snow at the little railroad this morning, it was -10 (-23.3 C) outside. And he's a volunteer. The little railroad is a volunteer-powered organization, and people give an amazing number of hours to keeping the little trains puffing along and delighting children.

At the library, volunteers provide the equivalent of a full-time staff member, saving the library (and the city and village taxpayers) between $35,000 and $40,000 annually.

Locally volunteers provide free tutoring for school kids as well as free language tutoring for adults who want to learn to speak and/or read English. They deliver meals to the elderly year-round and a special free lunch program for children in the summer. This year they will be adding art classes in the summer for the kids as well.

Volunteers go out into the community and read to daycare and HeadStart children. They visit people in hospice and in nursing homes. They rescue animals and help clean up the highways. Both Lake Delton Village and the City of Wisconsin Dells rely on volunteer fire departments.

So as I sit here snug and warm at home with the cats this morning, I think about those like Tom who go out there and just keep things going. Many of these folks get no recognition at all. In fact, I only know about some of the things they do because of the rounds I make in the bookmobile and what I see happening.

Thanks, folks! You done good!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Baby, it's cold outside!

Woke up to -4 (-20 C), looking forward (?) to a high of 4 (-15.6 C) and wind chills of maybe -27 (-32.8 C).

The good news? I will spend most of the day inside, because the Bookmobile goes to nursing homes and senior centers today. Bad news? We have to load and unload carts to take things in, and there is no shelter from the wind.

Because the sun is shining, the cats don't get why we won't let them outside in this. And tomorrow it will be a bit warmer but with snow much of the day. They are going to be cranky kitties by Saturday!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Time flies

Nine years, or 3287 days, one day at a time.

Monday, January 2, 2012

And so it begins ...

For New Year's Day, we had howling winds and snow showers. The snow showers didn't amount to much, no significant accumulation.

This morning (January 2), it is 18 degrees (-7.8 C) and we anticipate 4 degrees (- 15.6 C) tonight. Then it is supposed to climb back up safely above freezing by mid-week. Who knows from there?

Of course, many/most Wisconsin folks are interested in what the weather will be like in Pasadena today for the Rose Bowl, where the University of Wisconsin Badgers will be playing the Oregon Ducks this afternoon. I hear it will be close to 80 degrees (26.7 C), which seems absurd. One of my co-workers and her husband are visiting their son in Los Angeles this weekend, and she said her husband might try to go to the game. She plans to stay at home and play with her grandbabies.