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.
Huh.

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)

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.

 

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 Firewatch, then her novel Doomsday Book. Next, skip over and read the classic Jerome K. Jerome story Three Men in a Boat: to Say Nothing of the Dog. Once you’ve done this, grab Willis’ To Say Nothing of The Dog, a wonderful homage to both Jerome and Dorothy Sayers.

Oops. Happy Daughter is waking up. That’s all for now. Website improvements will continue at their current plodding pace. Thanks for reading!

Domestic Violence: Legal Resources

A friend is going through this. She needs legal advice and low-income resources.

Here’s the best of what I’ve found:

  • WomensLaw.org – Incredibly clear and useful site with an excellent FAQ, state-by-state help, info on shelters, courthouse locations, legal forms, advice.
  • Battered Women’s Justice Project – Contact list for state Domestic Violence coalitions – These groups can provide individual *advocates* who are familiar with state laws and resources.
  • American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence pdf guide to attaining a lawyer

I’ve been finding a lot of links-to-lists-of-links. If you know of any *easy to use* resources that would help a mother with no money avoid a murderous creep, please comment, and thank you.

Library Tourism

bernallib.pngI visited my local Bernal Heights library branch this afternoon, in search of a place to sit and read. It turned out to be one of the last weeks the building is open before it closes for an extensive renovation. On a kid-filled sunny spring Saturday, the current building gives the impression of being a community center rather than a library, with more conversations, computers, and chaos than visible books.

I’m looking forward to the new design. The neighborhood obviously is drawn to the location, which swirls with families out walking dogs and babies.

— — — —

Things I’m currently researching…

  • Wedding venues in the Detroit area that are:
    • Non-religious
    • Interesting-looking or unusual
    • Cheap, cheap, cheap!
  • Things to do in Brighton, UK
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Cat grooming (did you know you can use baby powder to make your cat less itchy?)
  • Better WordPress plugins (I’m playing with a new Twitter sidebar)
  • Management jobs in SF for my sweetie Chuck this summer

Research obsession: Medical Students for Choice

I’m going to show my political underpants briefly (har har. briefly.) and write about Medical Students for Choice.

Lately I’ve tried to keep my politics off of this website out of respect for the wonderful diversity of people who have taken librarianship as an identity.*

msfctshirt1.jpgHowever, I promised to keep you updated on the research topics I pursue in my off hours.

One of the topics I follow obsessively is the state of reproductive law in the US. I attended the March for Women’s Lives in 2004, and I came away with a new awareness of the scope and diversity of topics affecting women’s health, including poverty, contraceptive access, sex education, sexual violence, racism, and medical research, to name a few. The topic of women’s health goes well beyond the ethics and philosophy of the abortion debate.

One of the groups I most enjoyed seeing were the Medical Students for Choice, young mostly female medical students dedicated to raising awareness of the need to train abortion providers among the medical community.

msfc.jpgImagine a sea of women.

Imagine the mall in Washington DC on a warm sunny day. Imagine the grass and the voices. Everywhere you look there are signs, women, booths, friends, groups, people walking, people sitting, young women, old women, men of all ages and stripes, people of every color, signs from every US state and territory.

Imagine a group of women wearing white lab coats with stethoscopes around their necks, walking in small groups, smiling, talking, and holding signs saying “Medical Students for Choice.”

Some wore badges saying “Future abortion provider.” Some carried signs showing the number of women and young girls who die or are injured from unsafe abortions.

It was like watching a herd of beautiful gazelles as they walked through the chaos of the largest protest in US history. These women snapped with intelligence, kindness, and competence.

Seeing them made me stronger.

I don’t write this to inspire the same old arguments among friends. We can all agree that women’s physical safety is important, regardless of our deeper beliefs.

I love you guys. I’ll get back to writing trivia soon, I promise!

______________

*Yes, I think librarianship is an identity as well as a profession. More on this later.

14 Weird things I’ve learned this week

  1. Queen Bees are expensive
  2. It’s damned difficult to find a cat-sitter in Ithaca
  3. Johnathan Lethem’s You Don’t Love me Yet is, so far, an absolutely perfect book
  4. Tom Phillips is an artist who did a really great book painting featuring fictional books with titles stolen from Shakespeare
  5. Roccapulco is a salsa club in San Francisco. I’m going next week with my friend Jake
  6. The Lunch Meeting is the gold standard for interviews at eBay
  7. Oldschool Metadata

  8. You can randomly teleport somewhere in Second Life and end up getting juggled by a large pink elephant
  9. Hotels in San Francisco are way cheaper than hotels in NYC. Jobs in San Francisco pay way better than jobs in NYC.
  10. All it took for me to get my finances in shape was to get some software with a decent interface
  11. The only cure for pregnancy-induced hypertension is childbirth (hi clay!)
  12. My friend Josh has taken over things digital at the NYPL
  13. Adobe CS3 will steal your soul with its compelling beauty
  14. Google Analytics has a new interface that will steal whatever bit of your soul is leftover after Adobe gets done with you
  15. Half of you people are still using Internet Explorer. I’m saddened. Please, for the love of all things holy: Use

Three things I learned from migrating a WordPress site over to GoDaddy

Erica! Where ya been?
Glad you asked.

credit.jpgI’ve been off avenging. Specifically, I’ve been avenging the less-than-impressive webhosting capacity of my former ISP-who-shall-remain-nameless. I switched to GoDaddy recently, and spent a good amount of time cleaning everything up, updating, and migrating my databases. I also spent a good amount of time berating the salesman about GoDaddy’s stupid ads which seem to assume no women could possibly be potential customers. Can you say heteronormativity? GoDaddy sure as hell can.

Three things I learned from migrating a self-hosted WordPress site over to GoDaddy:

  1. You’re going to need a static IP address if you want to get everything set up and see how the site looks before switching over your domain name. Otherwise you can’t test your WP install and that my friends is playing with fire.
  2. You’re going to want to do it quickly, otherwise you will lose people’s comments and you’ll have to keep going back and re-uploading the database. So no slackin’.
  3. If you are using OS X (why would you use anything else? silly monkey.), Apple’s native ftp application Fetch is actually really good at grabbing entire directories and recursing them without a lot of permissions/ok buttons to deal with.

So here’s the new site, just like the old site but with better traffic-handling ability and more prominent text-link ads. Yay!
*Thanks sponsors! My car payment thanks you! My cat thanks you! My landlord thanks you!