Reference Questions: A Sampling

On the phone....
Patron: "Hi, I have a question about a four-letter word..."
Me: (bracing for heavy breathing, dirty language, etc.): "Certainly, sir, what word is it?"
Patron: "It's 'bags.' "
Me: "B as in boy?"
Patron: "Yes, ma'am. I wanted to know if this was a common four-letter word."
Me: "..."
Patron: "You see, I am doing a puzzle where I have to find four-letter words. I came up with 'bags,' but I'm not sure if it is a four-letter word, or a plural of a word. I tried looking it up, but it's not in the Merriam Webster Dictionary."
Me: "Well, sir, I think it is just a three-letter word, made plural with the 's'."
Patron: "Oh, okay, thanks."
In person....
Patron: "Where are the librarians?"
Me: (holding my arms out in a "Here I am" position)
Patron: "No, I mean the ones behind the desk." (Pointing to the Circulation Desk)
Me: (not pointing out that I am the only librarian in the building today) "She's in her office. Just go up to the desk, and she will come out."
  • Current Music
    flourescent hum

The Rules of Cereal

Last week, D complained because his Fruity Pebbles were soggy. Initially, I thought in my head, "Well, that's because you fell victim to one of the classic blunders of Fruity Pebbles," but then it occurred to me me that he might not know the rules of cereal (land wars in Asia, and all). So, below, are some helpful guidelines for eating cereal.

  • Do not put too much cereal in your bowl; otherwise, when you pour the milk, everything overflows. Aim for 2/3 of a bowl.
  • When pouring the milk, you really only need enough milk to get everything moist, unless you're a bowl-drinker.
  • While you may think you are better served by using a big spoon, smaller spoons are better for avoiding messes.
  • Drinking the milk from your bowl is optional.

  • Fruity Pebbles, while tasty, are also notoriously fickle, and get really limp really quickly. Don't pour the milk unless you are ready to eat them immediately; potty breaks have to wait until you are done with the bowl. Don't use a lot of milk, as that just makes them soggy more quickly. If you have a few soggy ones left in your bowl, you can improve things by pouring in more Fruity Pebbles. However, your milk is only good for two bowls -- any more than that, and the milk is gross-looking and much too sweet.
  • Frosted Flakes also suffer from sogginess. So do all flake cereals (with the exception of Bran Flakes, and maybe Special K). Many of the above rules apply.
  • Rice Chex is one of the few cereals that benefit from eating them with a large spoon, due to the size of the Chex. I suggest straining off the excess milk before ingesting.
  • Frosted Mini-Wheats have a variety of sub-rules, based on size. If you are eating the regular Mini-Wheats, break the individual biscuits in half before putting them in the bowl -- this helps avoid Splooging Wheat Syndrome (similar to Splooging Chicken Kiev Syndrome). While the Bite Size Mini-Wheats may be an easier size for eating, the frosting tends to clump together, and cuts up the roof of your mouth -- use caution. Straining the Mini-Wheats by pushing your spoon against the edge of the bowl before eating helps maximize the wheat-to-milk ratio.
  • Special K is yummy on its own -- you don't need to add sugar. However, Corn Flakes often benefit from a little honey.
  • Cheerios are supposed to be eaten with bananas. I, however, hate bananas. Use your own discretion.
  • Trader Joe's Gluten-Free Granola tastes best with vanilla yogurt. So does Grape Nuts.
  • Honeycomb and Froot Loops are two cereals that actually taste better without any milk. Use milk if you want, but beware the soggy factor.
  • There are several reasons to avoid Lucky Charms: 1) the marshmallows don't taste like real marshmallows, and by the time you wait for them to soften up in the milk, the rest of your cereal is soggy; 2) if you have kids, they are just going to eat the marshmallows and leave behind a bowl of uneaten oat pieces; 3) the leprechaun and his tormentors are just annoying.
  • Certain cocoa cereals are better than others. Cocoa Krispies are actually pretty good, as are dry Cocoa Puffs. But these are better as an after-school/work snack.
  • Kix are sexist -- "mother-approved," my fanny. They aren't bad, but if your parents bought you these and Life as a "healthy" alternative to those sugar cereals (because you were only allowed to eat the healthy stuff), they are a poor substitution. It's like eating Tofurkey and expecting it to taste like real turkey. Respect Kix and Life for what they are (mildly sweet, vaguely cardboard-y, and really gross when soggy), and get your sugar kicks elsewhere.
  • Trix has changed shapes a lot. They don't taste like Kix on a bender. Be thankful that they returned to their previous round shape -- the fruit shape was much too sweet and sticky. 
  • Cap'n Crunch tastes better dry -- it does weird things to your milk. Crunch Berries is vastly superior, but to mitigate the taste of Cap'n Crunch, the preferred ratio of Berries to Cap'n is 2:1 (WARNING: This will leave you with extra Cap'n). Or, better yet, wait for the special Oops All Berries to come out again.
  • Don't eat Total. It's boring. Cracklin' Oat Bran is tastier, even if it looks like kibble.
If you eat cereal with rice or soy milk, your taste results may differ. But soggy cereal is eternal, regardless of the "milk" you use.

Of course, YMMV. Cereal configurations may change without notice. Maybe they will someday make a Fruity Pebble that stays crispy in milk -- but I doubt it.
  • Current Music
    "where are the reserve books?"
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Star Wars Scholarship...

From a listserv I am on (I've added the hyperlinks):

"We're looking for one or two participants to round out a potential Star Wars themed panel for the 2009 PCA/ACA national conference. We presently have two panels/papers. One paper explores the notion of the Jedi Knights, as presented in the on-going Clone Wars animated series, via the superhero genre. The other paper explores the way in which a fictional character, namely Obi-wan Kenobi, contributes to the
rhetorical constitution of the postmodern self. Any and all approaches to an exploration of the Star Wars universe are welcome.

If interested, please send a title, 100-250 word abstract, and pertinent contact information.

Derek R. Sweet, Ph.D.
Luther College


So, if any of you are interested, I encourage you to get involved. I have presented papers at the Midwest PCA/ACA, and found the experience to be amazing. Pop culture scholars come from all areas: so far, I've met a librarian from the Library of Congress, a Dean of Faculty of a community college, editors of prestigious peer-reviewed popular culture journals, focused independent scholars, and amazingly intelligent grad students. Presenting a paper here does not reduce you to tears (as I have heard that presenting at MLA does) -- your fellow scholars are interested in your scholarship and want to help you in developing your research -- they are not there just to prove how scholarly they are, or see how many times they can use "post-modern" in a sentence.

So, hop to!


choo choo!

A train of thought I had this morning...
  • my eyesight is blurry; there must be gunk in my eye
  • <goes to mirror to peek> hunh, don't see anything
  • I wonder what the symptoms are of that low-tension glaucoma that mom has
  • I wonder if I have glaucoma -- how would I know?
  • I should research this
  • Wait, maybe I can ask Rita, she works with medical-type people
  • <sings> "Lovely Rita, meter maid..."
  • Man, I bet she gets sick and tired of hearing that
  • Was there a Rita in Across the Universe?
All this in about 4 seconds.

And I wonder why D asks such strange questions at bedtime. At least I wasn't riding Hannelore's train.

  • Current Music
    worries about glaucoma, cataracts, and retinal detachment
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undead journal

Uuuuuuuhhhhh..... yummy journal entries...........

Zombies are always good. I am kinda sad that D is not a zombie anything for Halloween this year (the zombie ewok costume last year was awesome). Our high-school kids at church (don't freak, we're UU) did a haunted house this past Sunday. The entryway was luring them in with candy ("Candy mountain, Charlie!"), and then there were zombies inside to chase them. Ah, good times.

I'm judging a costume contest tomorrow here at work. I wonder what the criteria for winning will be. I have heard that my library colleague comes up with good costumes, and that one year, the Dean of Students dressed up like Gandhi.

Oh, yeah, there was a link: Zombies at a Palin rally.

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    the hum of flourescent lighting

how doth the little crocodile improve his shining tail...

hey, i'm back. i am working part-time in a library for a local community college, so i get some intarwebs time now. yay!

the childerns are well -- the baby is slowly adjusting to childcare, and will eventually take his afternoon nap there. the older boy is in second grade now, and last night was asking to take courses in woodshop (i am tempted to steer him towards hip-hop dance instead, since he has expressed an interest, and he loves watching "america's best dance crew").

i am abnormally excited about football season starting up again -- i blame my parents for raising me in a rabid broncos household (although nowadays i root for da bears).

i like the environment at the college -- the students seem to be really interested in being here, and want to learn. it is the most diverse atmosphere i have experienced since moving to california. interestingly enough, two of the other librarians used to work where i used to work -- one of these days, i'll have to get gossip from them. the staff seem to be happy that i am here -- apparently, the fact that i make eye contact with patrons and smile at them is noteworthy.

like many other women, i am both amused and appalled at john mccain's vp choice. i see it as a cynical move to get the PUMA hillary supporters, and i think it is going to bite him in the butt. joe biden will probably provide some good soundbites.

cool to see my friend dan guy at the reins of neil gaiman's blog.  :)

hey, my birthday is at the end of the month -- what should i wish for?
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    the hum of flourescent lights

election year follies

the summer brings with it heightened election and political convention coverage. can't wait until our national dialog on race begins! absolutely NOTHING will go wrong, and people will stop yelling rude things at me out of their cars, trying to intimidate me with their monster trucks, or confusing me for the nanny.

and should obama win, i will be perfectly safe in this town...
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    blissful silence

two postings...

today i asked D what he wanted to be when he grew up -- he said he wanted to be an explorer that climbed. "like climb mountains?" i asked. "no, climb trees in the rainforest to study monkeys. and to count the number of trees cut down." my boy rocks.

from a friend, heads up on a tee-shirt by david and goliath saying rape is ok. complain here. and the original shirt has been replaced with this one (which offers a discount...).
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    indescribable indescribable

i'm back, kinda

happy new year (almost a month late, naturally)! i hope you are well...

* the boys are flourishing; the little one is crawling, climbing the stars, and saying "guh" a lot (he's just turned 8 months). the big one loves his little brother, and tries to teach him things, like how to scare mommy by going down the stairs face-first.

* our neighborhood school is one of 8 on a list of schools to maybe close (they will close 2); the mommies are worried that if we get shifted to another neighborhood school, they will have to attend PTA meetings where people are speaking spanish (horrors!).

* is it coincidence that the four kids who are seeing the reading specialist in the older boy's class are 1) boys, and 2) either of color (yes. mine is one of them) or have a single mother who works and isn't well-off? am i just reading into things (i happen to like the teacher, so i am conflicted).

* saw the GOP debate last night, and wanted to yell, "Reagan is dead, get over it!" interestingly enough, the traffic near our house didn't seem to be affected (we live 10 minutes from the Ronald Reagan Library). ron paul and huckabee were intriguing, and while i wouldn't vote for them, they seemed more sincere and had better ideas than the other two.

* ah, los angeles, where the leading news story is not about the upcoming super tuesday primaries, the debates, or the fact that so many candidates are in town, but rather the fact that brit-brit has been hospitalized again.

* how do you know it is winter in LA? the girls wear uggs instead of flip-flops with their miniskirts.
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    baby rampage!