30 April 2012

Hot Cross Buns

So back in 2010 I posted about Hot Cross Buns and you probably thought it was a one-time occurance. Well, I've made them again (though I don't think I made them any times between then and now). And today I want to tell you a little more about their history. These buns are a traditional Good Friday food, and so naturally that's when I made them. It seems that the cross represents the crucifixion but Wikipedia (aren't my sources great? and I call myself a librarian) doesn't seem to say anything about how it came to be a tradition, so I guess we will just have to remain unenlightened for a while longer (maybe next year when I make them I'll be inclined to doing more proper research).

When I went to make these this time I looked for the recipe I used ages ago, but I really have no idea where it came from and the one I ended up using was significantly easier, though I didn't actually love it. (I also have no recollection to what my last attempt tasted like for a comparison.) I think that next time I'll try another recipe yet again because these ones were kind of dry and I didn't love that. One thing I did like though was that I used cherry juice-infused craisins instead of raisins and that was pretty tasty. Though I was just reading about a variation that uses chocolate chips instead and that would probably be even better. I was prompted to try these fancy craisins to see how the might work to solve the great tea-ring debate. I have another package of craisins and I want to try them in the tea-ring in concert with a recipe for glace cherries I found to see if that will solve the issue--I'm not sure that it will really be an adequate substitute.

29 April 2012

International Children's Digital Library

So another cool website that we talked about in LIS 415 this week was the International Children's Digital Library. From what I understand this website was created by the University of Maryland in concert with the Internet Archive. But what makes it really awesome is that they also involved a team of 6 children (ages 7-11) that helped design the website in a way that makes sense to children.
Look,  I found Alice's Adventures in Wonderland without typing a thing.
The basic concept is that children often remember books based on what they look like (come to think of it I do too. I can't tell you how many times all I can remember is that the book was green and had a cool picture on the cover...) So the search interface allows a user to search based on features of the book such as color, or length, or if it is make-believe or true, etc. It allows you to select different things and then it filters the results similar to an AND Boolean search. And it lets you do all this without typing a single thing.

28 April 2012

Potato Pizza

This seems like forever ago that I was on my pizza kick, but for a while I'm pretty sure I made pizza (usually with zuccini and squash on it) at least once a week and maybe more like twice. I'm not sure what happened. I guess I got busy (which I definitely did, if I look at my life in January and my life now they are completely different). But back when I ate pizza all the time I saw this recipe for potato pizza and thought it sounded pretty tasty. Though when I made it I admit that I made some changes because I had neither shallots nor gruyere (though if I did that would've been pretty fantastic). Sadly, it's a little hard to remember, but I'm pretty sure I used cheddar cheese. And I also learned that you definitely need to make sure the potatoes are cooked all the way through before you put them on the crust because they won't finish cooking in the oven. But other than that, the pizza turned out pretty fantastically. Writing this makes me want to make pizza again soon, maybe I'll get ingredients for one next time I do a shop.

27 April 2012

Tag Galaxy

Yesterday was my last day of LIS 415--Information Organization. For reasons I don't quite understand that class ended this week (though I have two assignments for it due next week), but my other class still has two weeks left. I don't understand and I don't actually really care either--that's the funny thing about grad school: I find that I just don't care a lot about the random workings of the school or it's idiosyncrasies.

But, so in our class we had our final lecture and we talked about all kinds of cool things and so I want to highlight some of them here. My favorite website we saw is a way to visualize information and really has no discernible purpose other than to be incredibly pretty. Somebody obviously had way too much time on their hands, but that doesn't change the fact that it is really cool.
In case you're curious, these are pictures of Devon+Sea+Landscape. I think it captures Devon's beauty pretty well, don't you?

So play around with this website; it's called Tag Galaxy.

26 April 2012


So in my spare time (heh. what's spare time?) I moonlight as a cashier at a local retail establishment (and by local I mean in the next town over?).

Side note: Because of the nature of the word I have always associated moonlighting with night jobs, but I checked the OED--there are no time of day restrictions on the use of the word. Which is good because my "regular" job is my night job, and my "moonlighting" job is my day job (I know, it makes no sense--but such is life)

Back to my story. A customer came up to my register one day this week and after giving me a nice compliment (it's always nice to be appreciated) we chatted for a minute about signatures while he signed for his purchase. He mentioned how a signature is kind of like the way you make your mark on the world. (A symbol of yourself if you will). Our conversation was fairly short, not much more than him making that statement and me agreeing because it seemed reasonable. But I've been thinking about it since then and thinking how really our signature is a reflection of who we are (as well as the society that we are from). I think it would be an interesting study to study the ways that people sign their name in different cultures to see what it tells about that culture. For example I think that a collection of signatures from people in the US would tell a lot about the fast paced environment we live in. I mean how often do you see people with truly beautiful signatures anymore? (Incidentally, this customer's signature was very beautiful--he was from China, I think.) Today so many people when they have to sign their name sign nothing more than a scribble, not a single identifiable letter present. But when you see signatures from bygone eras you can really tell that they put some time and effort into it. Look at the signatures of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Nearly every one of them is identifiable, and if it's not its more because they're too close together than because of any neglect on the signer's part.

Imagine trying to forge Benjamin Franklin's signature...
I am proud to say that when I sign my name it is 98% legible (sometimes I put in too many o's or too many humps on the m...). Unfortunately, I don't think that my signature reflects who I am in the way that I wish it did, I have some work ahead of me to improve it. I really believe that our signature is a reflection of who we are (whether in this digital age we realize it or not) and I think that it would behoove humanity to take a moment to reflect on not only who we are, but who the persona is that we present to the world. I think that someone who takes the time to sign their name properly on even the most meaningless slip of paper is probably someone who takes pride in who they are and is probably making the effort to keep their life in good order.

I think this shift between caring about our signatures and barely even taking enough time to scribble on a page may have something to do with the shift between the "culture of character" and the "culture of personality" talked about in Susan Cain's book Quiet. This just occurred to me, so I think I'm going to have to ruminate on this some more and come back to it another time.

If you signature is a symbol of yourself, what does yours day about you?

18 April 2012

Public Libraries

A while ago I think I promised to explain more about the libraries here in Boston. And since I am feeling lonely because I've run out of other people's blog posts to read I guess that means I should post one myself and then I can solve someone else's loneliness (except I think there are only maybe two people who read this, but maybe it'll be just what they need...a blog post about libraries...)

Ok, so in Boston there are about a billion public libraries.There is the Boston Public Library and all it's branches and then there's what's called the Minuteman Network. From what I understand BPL was so big that it caused problems for all the small libraries in the surrounding cities and so they banded together and formed a network that is a formidable opponent to BPL (or at least this is what I imagine happened). Luckily you can use either library system and nobody really cares. So I have library cards for both which allows me to check out books from almost anywhere I can imagine (and this is great until I have books from BPL and from Cambridge and from Simmons and I get confused about which books are due where when). So when I got my Minuteman card I got it from the Brookline library because it's right on my way to and from school, but then about a week later I got a job (!) at another library in the network and so now I pretty much get my books exclusively from them (for what I hope are obvious reasons). Needless to say I am a huge fan of public libraries. And because I happen to think the library I work at is one of the most gorgeous libraries ever here are some pictures I found online.

The Reading Room
Gorgeous space, isn't it?
One corner of our children's floor (they get a whole floor all to themselves--
and that doesn't even include the teen room on another floor.
Don't be deceived by the difference in styles of the pictures. A few years ago we had a major expansion and so our reading room is in the older building and the other pictures are from our new building, they are simply gorgeous; I always feel so lucky that I get to work in such a beautiful space.