Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bill Anderson has - and shares - success in permanent weight loss

I just read "4 Top Weight Loss Scams of the Year (So Far)" by William Anderson, MA, LMHC, in the Huffington Post's HuffPost Healthy Living blog. If you are tempted by the exciting promises in the ads for the newest, latest "miracle substance" you should click on the link and read it too.

I cannot say enough good things about Bill Anderson and his wise and caring counsel. I heard him say over 25 years ago that there will be a new hoax every day. You may read this news elsewhere, but Bill's post concludes with the sane, safe solution to overweight problems. Bless you Bill!

Taking Ourselves Seriously - Or Not!

A Facebook friend posted a link to "6 Terms that Instantly Reveal You as a Librarian" by Ellyssa Kroski, posted on the OEDb (Open Education Database) web site. This is fun for librarians and retired librarians. Most fun is reviewing some of the comments. Several renounce and reject "Shh!" and colleagues have written hand-wringing articles for decades about our stereotypes. I take it more lightly and remain grateful that so many understand the continuing relevance of the public library.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Winter Walk Checklist for the past week

Wool socks over gym socks: check
Jeans over sweat pants: check
Sweat shirt over tee shirt: check
Puffy coat over sweat shirt: check
Ear buds in ears (mp3 player in pocket): check
Ski mask over ear buds: check
Cap with visor and ear flaps over ski mask: check
Hood over cap and ski mask: check
Black gloves on: check
Blue gloves sticking out of coat pockets (I put them over the black ones as soon as I start walking): check
Willingness to step into snowbanks to avoid tangling with cars on snow-narrowed streets: check
Commence walking!
(Using this method I walked an hour or a little more, five of the last seven days. I rested one day and wimped out and walked on the treadmill the other. Average outside distance between 3 and 3 1/2 miles, with extra work for the hips walking in the deep snowbanks. Apologies if any of this is "TMI.")

Frederick Law Olmsted designed the landscape for the Thomas Crane Library.

I was thrilled to find Dr. Thomas Mickey's article in today's Brockton Enterprise. When I was Library Director at Thomas Crane Public Library he offered to research Olmsted's role in our landscape architecture. He spent years documenting the facts summarized below. My only regret is that the Enterprise used a file photo showing the distressed lamps atop the lawn sign. Thanks to Mayor Tom Koch and the Community Preservation Department, they were beautifully restored in 2012.
IN THE GARDEN: Quincy's Crane Library and Olmstead Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York's Central Park and Boston's Emerald Necklace, also designed the landscape for the Thomas Crane Library. [by Dr. Thomas Mickey]
"The 19th century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York's Central Park and Boston's Emerald Necklace in the romantic English garden style, also designed the landscape for the Thomas Crane Library. I wanted to know more about that connection, so I sought out the Olmsted Archives in Brookline. What I found surprised me. There were two references to Olmsted's involvement. The Olmsted archives include a land survey of the library property, dated around 1881, by Whitman and Breck Surveyors of Boston. Though it is possible Olmsted commissioned the survey, what is important is it is among the Olmsted documents. The survey is an integral, early step in landscape design. The second reference, 22 years later in 1913, long after the death of the senior Olmsted, happened when the city of Quincy contracted with the Olmsted Brothers on minor landscape changes. The Olmsted archives include several letters, drawings, and planting lists. A letter from the firm to Quincy officials dated April 22, 1913 include these words: "since we laid out the Library grounds in 1881." The same letter encouraged the continuance of the extensive lawn surrounding the Library: "The character of the grounds would be much more pleasing and suitable if they should be confined to turf and a few dignified trees with the exception of the shrubbery at the corner of the library and along the east boundary against private properties." Later, Olmsted biographer Laura Wood Roper would write: "When [Boston architect Herbert] Richardson and [Frederick Law] Olmsted were engaged on the same work, it was a genuine collaboration from the start – the start being consultation about the site of the building and its approaches. Among the works they did jointly were the Crane Memorial Library at Quincy, when Richardson designed the building and Olmsted furnished plans for the grounds which Charles Francis Adams, Jr. executed under his direction." Adams, great-grandson of John Adams, was the chairman of the Library Committee. Trees from Charles' nursery were planted on the library grounds. Today the library, Richardson's classic stone design built in Quincy granite, seems just to emerge from the earth. The lawn plays an important role in the landscape design. Another letter from the Olmsted firm dated April 25, 1913 said: "Your Trustees cannot be too careful to avoid decorating the Library Grounds and making them fussy and out of harmony with the surroundings by scattering shrubs, trees and flower beds about the grounds as might perhaps be appropriate under different local conditions." The extensive lawn is the signature contribution of Olmsted who treasured the romantic English garden style. To this day one of the treasures of Quincy is its library surrounded by a classic English-style lawn. Reach Thomas Mickey at"

Friday, January 24, 2014

Because I'm a Williams?

Book Review, 'We Are Our Brains’ by D.F. Swaab, "Much to think about in look at brains" in the Boston Globe, January 20, 2014.
The review is interesting, but the note about the reviewer grabbed me: "Jennifer Latson is writing a narrative nonfiction book about a genetic disorder called Williams syndrome, which makes people socially uninhibited and indiscriminately friendly." All this time I thought it was because I'm a Gemini....

Follow-up comment, added 1/26/2014: I usually do my research before posting to avoid embarrassment or factual errors. My post was a bit careless because I went for "easy" humor. It turns out that Williams Syndrome includes symptoms that are not nearly so nice as friendliness. Sincere apologies to any for whom this evoked any pain.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

For capturing voice - excellent; For Dragon, not so much.

I purchased the Philips DVT1500/00 2 GB Digital Voice Tracer with 2 Built-In Microphones and Dragon Naturally Speaking Voice Recorder via Amazon. I love the recorder itself and gave it four starts on Amazon. Here's the rest of the story.
I broke my old Digital Voice Recorder and decided to spring for this one. I already had Dragon Naturally Speaking on my computer, and it worked just fine, but this recorder comes with Dragon software to convert the audio files directly into text. No need to create a document by reading - or playing the voice recording - "in real time." Rather the software would process and convert the audio. I had to uninstall the regular version of Dragon, install the DVR version, then "train" the software to recognize the files from the DVR. After repeated installations and "trainings," and hours searching online for hints or tips to improve my results, I deleted the DVR version of Dragon and reinstalled the regular Dragon Naturally Speaking, which I use to transcribe old handwritten Journal volumes into text. On my long walks I use the DVR to capture fleeting thoughts. For that it is an excellent voice recorder.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Harry's "Barn Raising" = Public Goods.

Today's Boston Globe features "An invisible crisis: We are suffering from a growing public goods deficit," By Charles Derber and June Sekera. You can click on the title to read the entire essay.
This is not easy reading, in either language or content, but is important. "1950s... economist John Kenneth Galbraith... warned about our backwards budgetary priorities leading to a disgraceful combination of 'private opulence and public squalor.'” Sound familiar?
The article tells us "In 2008, Mettler showed that of all who deny ever receiving benefits from US government programs, over 90 percent had participated in at least one such program." This reminds me of Ayn Rand, whom I love for her fiction, but who claimed "No one helped me," when, as a penniless immigrant, she was supported by family members in Chicago. This is not merely a convenient lapse of memory, it is a denial of the need to figure out - or perhaps to admit - that rational selfishness may not be a sin (Rand's theme) but that rational SHARING is also a virtue, one without which survival is unlikely, or likely to exist in a brutal form. A common sense balance of keeping and sharing is the humane, wise and practical way for us to live!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Loved the book & Learned about myself

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderful! Powerful! Exclamatory! (Me, not the book. I get carried away...) Thank you Stephen King for a great reading experience. I had an incredible experience thanks to Cover Illustrator Sean Freeman. For years, decades, I have described myself as "auditory and verbal - not visual," and sometimes wondered if I was kidding myself and exaggerating. Then I picked up Doctor Sleep to continue reading, looked for the umpteenth time at the cover, and "saw" for the first time that "The Red Blob behind the smoky lettering [which turns out to be steam, not smoke] is not a blob - it's a face, it's a woman!" This was pretty stunning evidence that I "see" with my ears (and as a slow reading subvocalizer I "hear" the words on the page as I read them) even more than I see with my eyes. And I enjoyed every word I "heard" reading the print version of this wonderful journey with Stephen King, Dan Torrance and the delightful Abra.

View all my reviews

Saturday, January 18, 2014

From the Mouths (and picket signs) of Babes...

Here is my reaction to a wonderful story in today's Boston Globe, "Young protesters march for a library in Chinatown, By Wesley Lowery."

Wonderful! Then-Mayor Menino got his head handed to him when he explored saving money by closing neighborhood Branch Libraries. While Director of the library system in nearby Quincy, I learned that it is not just a stereotype that Chinese Americans value education, literacy AND LIBRARIES. The North Quincy Branch was in a heavily Asian neighborhood and was our busiest Branch by far. Perhaps new Boston Mayor Walsh will see this as an opportunity to do the right thing for his City and for his constituents - especially these future voters. Second graders! You go, children!

The article begins, "The voices were young, but they rang out in a synchronized and forceful chant as the children made their way through the downtown streets. Gloved hands held painted signs as pink and blue bookbags bounced on their backs. 'Books, access fairness, we’re marching to raise awareness,' the more than 50 second-graders declared as they marched from the Chinatown gate to City Hall Friday afternoon. 'We want justice. We want it now!' they chanted. The youthful protesters were seeking to raise awareness of a campaign to bring a public library to Chinatown, which is the only Boston neighborhood without a library branch."

To read the entire article click this link.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Sad Lack of Understanding

How dare these kids read fiction? - Worcester Telegram & Gazette -

Here is my response to Diane Williamson's column: This is sad, not just because the "star" of the story doesn't appreciate public libraries, but because I have seen Peter Baghdasarian's extensive personal library, know that he loves books, and have discussed with him my "Public Library as Barn Raising" theory.  When a conservative complains that too many people want the government to do for them and take care of them, you would expect him to support any initiative that makes available the tools to take care of one's self, to pull one's self up by one's bootstraps.  That is exactly what public schools and public libraries are for.  He claims that " books are well within the means of most people to buy,"  That may be true for successful, employed adults, but here's the challenge: If a poor kid is growing up in a home where no one around them reads or cares about books, if he or she is willing to endure ridicule from those who might call them a wimp or a nerd for reading - the only "ticket" out of that environment - isn't it in all of our interest that this future citizen have access to the books and other resources to make that possible?  The Founding Fathers understood the need for a literate and educated populace, and that being able to climb out of the status of one's birth was a new and radical concept in a world of privilege through birth.  Public Libraries are among the most "American" of institutions.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Boston Globe: Importance of Public Libraries II

I wonder if The Boston Globe is programmed to prevent sharing more than one article from the same issue. I tried to praise them on Facebook for having two pro-library articles in one Sunday paper but I was forced to do this second one manually so I could share "How Geraldine Brooks’s characters emerge," By Eugenia Williamson. Yesterday's Boston Globe had two articles highlighting the value of libraries. If you click on this author profile you will see a major section is MAGIC OF LIBRARIES, which quotes Brooks, "The wonderful thing about libraries and why I’ll never stop going... is the serendipitous encounters that can happen in the stacks of a great library." I previously posted the other one, about GDP vs. the Social Progress Index, with my opinion that the author's thesis shows how central Public Libraries our to our national progress and success. Stories about the demise of the Public Library are not just premature, they are simply wrong!

Boston Globe: Importance of Public Libraries I

Public Libraries are needed more than ever - they contribute to two of the three dimensions of national success, and are crucial to one of them. In a guest Opinion piece in yesterday's Boston Globe, Michael E. Porter wrote "The Social Progress Index defines social progress according to three broad dimensions: Does a country have the capacity to satisfy the basic human needs of its people? Does a country have the institutions and conditions in place to allow its citizens and communities to improve their quality of life? And does a country offer an environment in which each citizen has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential?" You can read Porter's essay at "Better measuring a country: GDP is not the best way to quantify national success"

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Librarian Among the Poets

This morning's Globe South section of The Boston Globe has a wonderful article that I want to share, along with the comments I put on my Facebook page (where it is easier to "share" the entire article with a couple of clicks, but whence I am still unable to embed my post here, so I'm doing it manually in several steps.) The article is "Poets step up to the mike at Plymouth Center for the Arts" by Robert Knox. I will paste the text of the article below, after sharing the thoughts and memories it evoked in me.
Thanks to Robert Knox for dedicating so much "ink" to these wonderful poets and their performances. In 2004 I became Executive Director of the Brockton Public Library. Organizers Phil Hasouris and the late Frank Miller asked if I would "allow" the Brockton Library Poetry Series, which moved to the library the previous year, to continue. "Allow it? I'll promote it!" We collaborated with Arnie Danielson to turn this loose “organization" into the non-profit corporation, the Greater Brockton Society for Poetry and the Arts, which continued the monthly series for seven years. It moved to the Fuller Craft Museum after I left the library. (I pleaded for my only legacy to be continued nurturing of this magnificent partnership, to no avail.) I had the opportunity to listen to, and discuss their work with, Ryk McIntyre (in the photo) Mike Amado (photo in body of the article) Jack Scully who keeps the Plymouth series going in memory of Mike, Nancy Brady Cunningham, who edited Mike's last book with Jack, and so many others. I have a shelf full of books autographed "To Harry The Librarian" and had the honor of interviewing many world class poets for video. My interview with United States Poet Laureate Maxine Kumin, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, is on YouTube. As Maxine Kumin says of contemporary poetry, "Prepare to be astonished!"
Poets step up to the mike at Plymouth Center for the Arts
The monthly poetry reading series at the Plymouth Center for the Arts was created six years ago by a Plymouth poet with only a short time to live and a Boston poet who befriended him, to create a local opportunity for poets to share their work and network. “There was nothing going on in the Plymouth area” for poets, said Jack Scully, who founded the series with Mike Amado, the late Plymouth resident who wrote poems about the contemporary social and political climate and about his own medical journey. They approached the Plymouth Center for the Arts, the nonprofit arts organization housed in a former town library in Plymouth Center, and proposed the reading series, titled “Poetry: The Art of Words.” Shortly after they got it off the ground, Scully said, “Mike knew he was on the way out.” He died five years ago this month, at age 33. Scully, who has since retired from his job with the state, promised he would keep the open mike series going. A lifetime resident of Plymouth, Amado was diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease in his early teens. Also a musician, a drummer, he graduated from Plymouth North High School and attended Quincy Community College in Plymouth, although his education was interrupted by his medical condition. Amado published several books of poetry with small publishers. Scully edited his last book (with Nancy Brady Cunningham), “The Book of Arrows,” and had it published. According to the Greater Brockton Society for Poetry and the Arts, which runs a reading series Amado participated in, he wrote “lyrical, rhythm-based” poems including medically inspired poems such as “Just Waiting.” That poem begins: “Waiting for the Doctor/ Waiting for the pills/ Waiting for the scalpel/ Waiting to heal/ Waiting for treatment to begin/ Waiting for treatment to end/ Waiting to feel better/ Waiting to feel worse.”
“The Art of Words” readings begin with acoustic music, then two featured readers before opening the microphone up to whoever else has brought something to read that day. Local participants in the readings include Plymouth’s Charles Harper, who has published three books of poems, including “Gratitude,” a book of meditations each using a term for “gratitude” or “thank you” in a different tongue. “It seems that our species has an urgent and universal need to say ‘thank you’ to that Mystery from whom we come,” he writes in the book’s preface. Another reader, Elizabeth Hanson of Plymouth, has published poems in the anthology of The Bagel Bards, a long-established Cambridge poetry group, and by Ibbetson Street, a long-established Boston poetry publisher. Ryk McIntyre of Providence, a featured reader in Sunday’s reading, calls himself a “performance poet.” “Performance poets get up and perform,” McIntyre said. “Some people have told me I come across as a combination of Robin Williams and Lewis Black. . . . I’m a grumpy humanist.” He is also a four-time National Poetry Slam team member and a cohost of The Cantab poetry readings in Cambridge. The world of “poetry slams” takes poetry out of the academy and puts it on the live stage where participants “perform” and compete before judges for numerical scores. It’s akin to theater and standup comedy “couched in Olympic-style scoring,” McIntyre said. “The judges are chosen at random from the audience.” The idea of the slam is to attract people “who normally wouldn’t be caught dead at a poetry reading,” McIntyre said. Slam venues in the Boston area include the Cantab Lounge and the Lizard Lounge, both in Cambridge. McIntyre participated in the Providence Slam and earned his way onto the national poetry slam team. His performance poetry has also led to national tour dates. He performed as an opening act for musician Leon Redbone and for poet and National Public Radio commentator Andrei Codrescu and took part in the Lollapalooza music festival. He has also performed at the New School in New York City and Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Arts and Strand Theater. He recently published his first complete book of poems, titled “After Everything Burns,” consisting of poems written in the last year and a half when, McIntyre said, his second marriage fell apart. “Doors are the ghosts of conversations,” he writes in the title poem, “framed with slamming; this house was wall-papered in shouts.” Sunday’s reading also features Boston poet and visual artist Elizabeth Quinlan, author of “Promise Supermarket” (published by Ibbetson Street Press). She is a graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and a member of the Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences. Quinlan is currently working on a collection of poems based on the life of Maud Cuney-Hare (1874-1936), an eminent scholar of African-American music, pianist, and composer. Scully said the meeting area in the Plymouth Center for the Arts seats about 50, and the open mike readings draw a diverse crowd with readers ages 12 to 81. Typically, about 15 to 20 people step up to the mike. Along with the music at the beginning, the gathering offers refreshments and an opportunity for poets to mingle and talk about what they’re up to. Encouraging poets through networking opportunities, Scully said, is one of the reasons the series has received a grant from the Plymouth Cultural Council.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This Research firm doesn't...

Pathetic: I got an email promoting a video promoting a course in surviving the coming disaster(s.) It is offered by a firm with "Research" in its name. The teaser in the email said "It’s about an event that occurred not too long ago in a small town west of Boston." The video's images are mostly the text of the narration. Early on it says, "On May 1, 2010, at about 10am, two sections of a 10-foot pipe ruptured in the town of Westin, Massachusetts. Westin, by the way, is a small suburb, located 15 miles west of Boston." How much research is needed to discover that the town is spelled Weston - WestON not WestIN? In fact even as I type this FB (I orginally posted this on Facebook - see previous post about difficulty embedding) is underlining their version as misspelled. A quick look at Google maps would do, and a Google search for "Westin water pipe disaster" gives results with the correct spelling indicated as an alternative to "Westin." I know, we librarians (especially retired ones who were trained in the old, old days) are sticklers for using good sources and checking details, but how can you have any confidence in their advice when they demonstrate such intellectual laziness in their promotion? OK, rant over (for now.)

To emBEd or not to emBEd.

This morning I posted on my Facebook page, "Frustrated by Facebook. I did a bunch of research last night on how to "embed" one of my public posts into my blog or web site. FB help and some independent blog experts say the drop down on the right should include an option to embed the post but it is not in my menu. Anybody have a clue about this?." Later I added, " I just took a screen shot of this post with the drop-down (downward pointing arrow at top right of the post) open to show that the Embed option is not present there. I submitted it to the FB Help/report a bug people. They say they don't reply to all such messages, so if any of you know a fix for this I would appreciate hearing about it." My daughter commented, " I think it only applies to Pages, not people's profiles (a page is something like for a business, club, etc.)" to which I replied, " you may be right, although the Help pages and blog posts I saw made it sound like it would work for us with Profiles, not just Pages. I hope the FB people will get back to me on this. I find myself posting here so much more often than on my blog, that it would be good to at least put some content on my blogger site (now accessible by the url I purchased: more frequently."
All of this relates to why I may have to continue manually copying and pasting my Facebook posts here, or vice versa.

"Just enter the $11.27 and see what happens!"

There was no "share" button when I found this in The Boston Globe. Jody laughed out loud and showed it to me in the print version - we still have it delivered daily. I hope I'm not violating copyright laws by sharing this. I am a Plugger in so many ways and this is an exchange that I've often experienced.

Friday, January 3, 2014

My "New" Web Site - still here but with easier access!

On December 21, 2007, I started this Blog, writing, "I've been HarryTheLibrarian at aol dot com, then at att dot net, and in the search for speed, now at comcast dot net. I maintained a Geocities site from 1996, and a "commercial" website (the quotes because the only commerce so far has been to pay the hosting fees) since 2000. It's about time I joined the millions smart enough to recognize a better way, and entered the blogosphere. I hope you will welcome me, as I welcome you to my new 'place.'"
The references are to my old email addresses and now "HTL" at comcast is also obsolete. I was unable to get use of "HarryTheLibrarian at," possibly because the handle was already in use, maybe even because of me using it for this blog. I grabbed as the next best email address just to have one somewhat consistent with the old ones, but it's a bit awkward, so I also notified people that the easier-to-type will also reach me.
The BIG NEWS, at least for me, is that thanks to a wonderfully helpful blog post by Dana at Wonder Forest, I purchased the url so now I "own" my own identity, and you don't have to type at the end of harrythelibrarian. I have the advantage of having "a real web site" while enjoying all the advantages of hosting on Blogger.
I am dismayed when I see how infrequently I have been posting here, but now that this is really "my space" I will be a lot more faithful. I guess I had better share this information with my Facebook friends, as I have been a lot more regular there (although never "daily") than here.
Happy New Year!