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Why keep the old books?

We're now at Virginia Tech, which is roughly the size of Canada. I'd walk across campus, but I need to get back to D.C. sometime before the end of the month. Seriously, students should have personal helicopters to get around this place. Instead of a quad, they have this thing called the drillfield, into which you could insert the entirety of, for example, Haverford.

The library is commensurately vast, and commendable. I want my kid to go to a school with a big library, and more specifically, one that has lots of books, not just computer terminals and video centers and digital archives. Books are good. I'm a books guy. If a library has more than, say, 14 million books, it might actually have one of mine! With associated self-esteem-boosting from parental visitation, etc.

But I just had a disturbing thought as I perused the stacks. I was examining back numbers of the Bulletin of Alabama Geology or something to that effect. And it occurred to me: No one cares about Alabama geology. And that non-caring intensifies as you go into the back numbers. Like, Alabama geology circa 1978.

Why not digitize it and be done with it? Convert some of those stacks into an arcade! With video games! Or open up a pub, with pitchers of microbrews! I'm just thinking out loud here.

I sort of know the answer: People are, in fact, interested in things that "no one is interested in." More importantly, I think the stacks provide a kind of broad-bandwidth form of information storage that is easily scanned by the stacks-prowler. Libraries also have a duty to preserve stuff that's not the most popular material. Otherwise we're a society that depends entirely on the first page of Google results.

I wrote a story on this exact subject a while ago. But I don't remember when. (I guess I have to Google it.)

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 1, 2010; 1:18 PM ET
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Next: Battle of the gap years


Fear Chinese Shrimp

Posted by: russianthistle | April 1, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Ah, no -- no electronic books for me! There is something about the tactility of books in hand and not in Kindle. Besides, when holding a book when you read it, the only electronic footprint you have is the light bulb (CFBs, of course).

Books by the fireplace (if one has one), books under the natural light of day, books while snuggled under the covers, books while sitting under a tree -- Kindles and their ilk take away the romanticism of literature for me and take away from the sheer, unadulterated pleasure of reading.

Besides, suppose you get to a *really, really, really* good part and the battery dies unexpectedly. Would you remember where in the book you were? Do you automatically remember page numbers? And batteries over time are not cheap -- especially those of the Lithium variety.

As for the geology of Alabama, like all things Alabaman, I suspect that "Dark Ages" outta cover it. But, well, I'm a Yankee (though not a Yankee's fan), so there ya go.

Gotta finish drafting an agreement.

Cya later

Posted by: -ftb- | April 1, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

And ask yourself this, regarding digitized books. What about the all-important marginalia? Why, when I donate my library to some august institution, *generations* will know exactly what I thought of, about and around any given passage.

Posted by: Yoki | April 1, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Plus, books are great for propping doors open and as a subsitute for sandbags in case of high water.

Going off-Kit early to repost some Boodling...

"yello, ya know I'm with ya.

I'm not saying some of these stories aren't true, including the Piratical one, but today I've raised my skepticomical level to Code Harrumph.

'I thought AP didn't propagate no fairy tales
Fox News could fool some folks but not me.
Thought Reuters wasn't out to get me
That's the way it seemed.
News syndication on all my screens.

Then I saw the Home Page
Now I'm a disbeliever

And there's more than a trace
of doubt in my mind

And I say Harrumph!
Ooh, I'm a disbeliever
Won't believe a deceiver
They're gonna make me cry...'


Posted by: -bc- | April 1, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse."


Posted by: -bc- | April 1, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

It is remarkably hard to turn down the corner on the Kindle to mark your place.

Joel, get out of there and go to Charlottesville. Ask about living in Brown College on Monroe Hill- absolutely the best place to live at UVA.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 1, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

My family visited VT on a lark as a lunch stop between the Tennessee border and someplace else. While the campus looked suitable grand and grey, the surrounding community did not meet my son's expectations of metropolitan-ness. We also visited both the official campus book store and the off-campus book store and found them both wanting in breadth and depth of selection for non-textbooks. While the school was never in serious contention, this sojourn got it struck permanently from the apply-to list.

At the time, the campus was strewn with large fiberglass Hokies. I did take the time to pose on with ball cap I just happened to have in the back seat.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 1, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

How many large fibreglass sandwiches does one campus need? And why a ball cap?

Posted by: Yoki | April 1, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Scroll down to third pic to see Hokie.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 1, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

As for my and my son's future (Did I get that right? I'd to have a WaPo copy editor insert a [sic].) mutual alma mater, I am proud that the campus bookstore is a fully functioning franchise of BigBoxOfBooks complete with an escalator and a full service Starbucks.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 1, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

That's my alma mater, Joel! Enjoy your visit there. Yes, it's a big campus and the area around the drillfield is only about half of it. When I was there I described it as a very large school attached to a very small town.

I love old books. There's nothing like wandering around in the stacks and stumbling serendipitously on some obscure book one of your professors mentioned that probably hadn't been checked out since the 1940s or on a periodical you heard about but had never read, like the afternoon I lost reading Ramparts magazine as I was searching for another book that I can no longer recall.

Posted by: -pj- | April 1, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Johns Hopkins finally got smart and changed its name:

Posted by: -pj- | April 1, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

The biggest problem with digitizing books as I see it is that digital formats become obsolete very quickly. Today's 16GB flash drive is tomorrow's 8" floppy disk. Good luck reading it in 10 years (or less). And converting the digital version every time the technology changes is expensive and impractical. Books can always be read without any special equipment (except maybe glasses) and no upgrades are required.

Posted by: Arlington5 | April 1, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for tune cootie. Really. Thanks.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 1, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I once applied to Haverford. Got put on a waiting list that apparently included all rejected applications that were complete and legible. Went to a state university that had doubled in size in a decade, an academic mushroom whose library resources had been overwhelmed.

Virginia Tech is as nothing compared to the Florida monsters: UF, University of South Florida and University of Central Florida. Florida International University escapes monsterhood by having relatively few students (maybe 45000) and splitting them between two campuses.

UCF seems to need a subway with links to remote parking areas scattered around Orlando. And maybe a branch line to the beach.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 1, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Love it.

The novel 'Rainbow's End' by Vernor Vinge has a major subplot involving the digitizing and destruction of a university campus library collection. Hilarity ensues.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 1, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

One more thing before I *actually* go back to work --

Looking at a Kindle (or its relatives) for any length of time is really hard on the eyes. I suffer from dry eye anyway, and even being attached to my regular computer screen all day makes me suffer even more. During pollen season it's much worse -- in fact, I've seen the difference in my eyes (itchy, running) since yesterday.

Over and out.

Posted by: -ftb- | April 1, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Rainbows End - no apostrophe.

Be careful where you park at UCF if you are there to see Glenn Beck.

It wasn't even April Fools Day.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 1, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I love books and, for the same reasons as ftb, I don't trust these newfangled reader thingys. I like looking at my books and remembering what's in them (or not - which means I get to reread!), or just admire their spines on the shelves. Our little town library isn't very good but I still like going there. And I think I've said before that you could just abandon me in a large bookstore and I'd be in heaven.

Sun is out finally and water still coming into the basement so pump and wet vac still in use. But it's better than yesterday so I'm happy!

Posted by: badsneakers | April 1, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Thinking of digital, outfits like JSTOR and Highwire have digitalized back issues of journals and made digital the primary medium of journal publication, not that the paper copies aren't still produced.

So study areas in university libraries seem to use old nursing journals as visual dividers and sound absorbers.

JSTOR's mature enough for its history to have been written. Hardcover book.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 1, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to dissent just a little. Yes, absolutely, for pleasure reading, I want a real book. But if I'm researching journal articles, it is oh so useful to have the pdf instantly available. The abstract may or may not give me enough information to know whether any given article is useful for me, but if I can download it immediately, I can figure it out. In that situation, I'm looking at tens of articles at a sitting -- not having to traipse around the library to find all the journals is a huge time saver. If I'm reading an article in depth, I'll print it out, which is easier than photocopying from the journal. Plus, if I want to assign it to my students, I can just send them the link rather than dealing with the whole photocopy & place on reserve thing, with all the attendant forms (at this point the library will scan it and place it on e-reserve anyway).

Books, even for research purposes, are a bit of a different story. It is great to have digital access from my desk (e.g., the limited preview on Google books) for selection purposes. But the ebook formats they have through the library are oh so irritating. Since I can check out a book and bring it home (unlike the journals), and because there are probably other interesting things next to it on the shelf, I'll still vote for keeping and expanding the book collections. But for scholarly journals, pdfs of the articles are the way to go.

Posted by: -bia- | April 1, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

The thing I love about the "Just Digitize It!" argument, is that someone still has to pay for that.

You have to pay for the hardware, software, and IT infrastructure changes (and maintenance). You can't just throw that 1978 Bulletin of Alabama Geology (which, as a former geologist, I can tell you it probably contains a bunch of oversized maps) on your local scanner - for pure archival purposes (as in, we're throwing the book away), we're talking about really high-resolution scanning.

Since most schools are currently struggling with their endowments, the permanent library will remain. Especially in Virginia where most of the schools have some sort of inter-library loan thing going on, or you can just road trip down for a day or weekend, visit your friends on campus, and come home with all the research you need.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | April 1, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of which, there's a book that I need to refer to before I teach next week, and I forgot to pick it up at the library when I was on that side of campus earlier. Oh well, it's a pretty day for a walk.

Posted by: -bia- | April 1, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Thinking of book stores, my monster undergrad school was in a tiny town that had a couple of (private) textbook stores and a news stand that usually had the NY Times, but I do not recall a book store. Grad school had an intimate bookstore on the charming main street. I still have a little California paperback on bodysurfing from them. UF had a somewhat larger indie bookstore across from a main entrance. From it, I still have a book on Japanese gardens and Alfred Crosby's book on "The Columbian Exchange". Both came from small publishers, so I credit them with book finding.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 1, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I like hard copy books and libraries for the same reason I like the dead trees edition of the newspaper--browsability. I *like* stumbling across articles I wouldn't have otherwise read. And I like grazing through the stacks in a small library, looking for books on topics I might not have otherwise sought out.

About the only advantage I see to a Kindle is being able to take several books on vacation and stay within baggage weight limits. But then, I often think I'm just a "dagnabbit" and a "you kids get off my lawn" away from geezerdom.

Posted by: Raysmom | April 1, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

bia, proximity long had advantages. North Carolina had a union university library catalog back when card-making was a major undertaking. The Raleigh-Durham universities quite obviously collaborated to avoid needless duplication.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 1, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

You guys every try to take a piece of microfiche or a CD-ROM into the throne room?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 1, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Your points are valid, bia, for the practical uses of researchers and students. But give me a book in the hand to read, any day of the week...And Arlington 5 is right about formats. Wonder when digital formats will become stable? Not in the next few years, I suppose.

The only time I think I'd be tempted by a Kindle would be on an airplane, but it would have to be on the opposite side from the sun...

Posted by: slyness | April 1, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

In some government regulatory contexts, everything consulted in creating a public document must be made available for Freedom of Information Act purposes. It's essential to assemble pdf's as part of creating the document.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 1, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse


When I was in Blacksburg there was a great independent book and record store (remember them?) called Books, Strings, and Things. I spent many hours and many dollars in that place! I still remember walking through the rain to pick up "Darkness on the Edge of Town" when it was released. Back in the Goodle Days.

Posted by: -pj- | April 1, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

What I remember most about our college library was the smell. The place had a rich musky aroma with undertones of mold and leather. You know, the fragrance of Learning.

And this is as it should be. For the value of a college library isn't just as a book repository. No, it is a place where learning can occur. College libraries have the ambiance of a church. They are quiet restful places where one can sit and read textbooks or study for tests free from the distractions of the campus.

I used to sit in an over-sized swivel chair and push myself in circles as I studied. I knew I was ready when I became properly nauseated.

And, or so I am told, my son also uses the library as a refuge. His roommate is inordinately fond of these new-fangled electronic videographic games. You know, stuff like "The Final Fantasy of Bioshock."

As a result, my son spends hours nestled in the unusually comfy chairs located within the stacks. He tells me it is soothing, restful, and blissfully quiet.

Although, unfortunately, all that paper sometimes interferes with the WiFi.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 1, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Today, Joel, you'll have to Topeka it.

I agree with bia about the advantage of online professional research. Having the case reporters and legal journals online has truly changed the practice of law. For one thing, judges can now take a brief recess, look up a case, read it, and realize it decides the issue currently dangling forlornly in the courtroom.

However, also like bia, I'm all for books in their natural state for reading purposes. My last year of college I lived off campus and had to do a lot of reading, so I parked myself in a comfy chair in the library stacks every day. Of course, it was very difficult to read my assigned material [digression: taking the bulk of classes necessary for a philosophy degree all in one year will rot your brain] when there were all these tempting books. I discovered both Hilaire Belloc and Marjorie Allingham that year - and that was just from one chair.

In law school I hung out in the "casual" room at the end of the Reading Room. It had a fireplace, big windows, newspapers and frivolous stuff like true crime books.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 1, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Digitizing books, indeed digitizing anything, has the danger of obsolescence. I can pick up a journal written 25 years ago and reasonably expect to be able to access the contents, but I have no way of doing so with my graduate-school dissertation from the same era. It is stored digitally on a high-tech 8-inch floppy drive. Digital technology is always changing

Fortunately, the Deep Thoughts contained in my dissertation have not truly been lost. Because, of course, long ago I printed it out.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 1, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised nobody has brought up the private carrels in university libraries. You know, the ones with locking doors and windows covered with posters. It's amazing I ever graduated.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 1, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I think tradition is important, and I worry that all this digitizing and Kindling will eliminate for future generations of college students the experience of returning an actual physical book to the college library, wherein the library looks at you steadily through her dark-framed glasses, slowly removes the glasses, takes a few pins from her hair, which cascades from its bun into a gleasming mane about her tawny shoulders, as she leans close, looks you in the eye, and whispers in her sultry Kathleen Turner voice, "Why, Mr. Curmudgeon! Your book is two weeks overdue. You've been a naughty, naughty boy, haven't you?"

Um, not that it ever happened to me that way, exactly.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 1, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

SCC: wherein the librarian.

Got a little carried away, there.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 1, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, you know, of course, that I'm picturing that scene with Bogart and Dorothy Malone in "The Big Sleep."

Posted by: rashomon | April 1, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

As a graduate student I had access to the compactus in which most periodicals were stored. I just loved turning those big safe wheels to gain access to a valley of periodicals.

What a gorgeous weather to start this right-sized weekend. Sunny and about 67F/18C.
We have a very religious gunmint that gives us Good Friday and Easter Monday off. I will not dispute this obvious State & Church interference.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 1, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I think I used to have that issue. But I bet that story was in every issue. You didn't happen to be a sophomore at a small midwest liberal arts college at the time. And I bet you never thought it would happen to you.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 1, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse


We had a used record store right on campus. I never bought anything there, but at one time I could recite the entire King Crimson catalog.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 1, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Zackly, rashomon. That "remove specs and let down hair to reveal inner bombshell" scene is classic cinema cliche #417 usually expressed as /!!\.

Posted by: kguy1 | April 1, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Raysmom on the power of serendipity. The book NEXT TO the one you were looking for is often the sort of discovery that leads to a great thesis, or eventual prize. Or good in its own right.

Funny, I just watched this yesterday, a TED Talk by Brewster Kahle on digitizing libraries.

I should point out that converting from formats is a mouse click away, if you have the sense to do backups to new formats when they arrive. Which I now do. A LOT easier than the initial scanning, or typing even.

I highly recommend the Kahle talk.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 1, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Yeppers, Dorothy was some dish in that scene, wasn't she? And she sure knew her Ben Hur errata.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 1, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

In fact, Amazon could gain a lot maybe by offering up one totally random book along with the ones which it thinks I might like (ones which I almost never do.)

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 1, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

This is actually a true story: I recently got back in touch with a woman who was a really hot dish back in high school. I haven't seen/heard/talked to her in literally 40-some years. And she is now a research liberarian at a smaller college somewhere in the United States (I won't say where, except not around here, more's the pity). I have no idea what she looks like today (she's now a year older than me, not that that means anything). But lemme tell ya, back in the day...

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 1, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Picking up on one of the themes here - When I did one of my books about 15 years ago, my publisher duped all of the color photos (about 180 of them)onto Kodak Photodisks. Guess what? No one today supports that format. I was going to copy the disks and donate them to a non-profit group for their files, but I can't do it. We're looking around now to see if there is any options.

Posted by: ebtnut | April 1, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

I love old books. Not only what's in them, but how they're made. The way the pages are cut, the thickness of the paper. The stitching of the binding. The shapes of the letters, the giant first letter of the first word of each chapter. The leather cover. It's all cool.

In older magazines, there's so much to be gleaned from the ads. Did you know women used to clean the kitchen wearing beautiful dress, make-up, and jewelry?). Except for Marlboro, which has been using the same ad for a good 40 years (rugged man on a horse, snow-capped mountains, because nothing screams of good health and the great outdoors like a smoke.)

Posted by: LostInThought | April 1, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

She's now a year older than you? That is strange progression for a women. I'm now a year older than my elder sister. She has a young daughter and doesn't like the fif/cinq sound I guess. Years get longer as women age.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 1, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Shriek, my wife is now younger than our 44-year-old daughter. I can't explain it. Time machine, warp in space-time continuum, I dunno.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 1, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Oh please. Enough with that cliche.

Posted by: Yoki | April 1, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

And, yet, LiT, several years ago I read that the original Marlboro Man died of lung cancer.

Gee, I wonder why. . . .

Aw, poor Mudgie. You will just have to be satisfied in the knowledge that a rich fantasy life is essential to one's well being. Or is that "being well"? I fergit. As we always say ... "whatever"

What a gorgeous day! And, yet, I still haven't been out in it. But I can clearly breathe the pollen while indoors werkin'.

*cough* *cough* *sniffle* *snorffle*

Posted by: -ftb- | April 1, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I understand people's attachment to books. There is more to a book than the printed pages.

That said, a few of us simply can't manage them physically. We make do with other options or we make do without.

As for the future, even university libraries have to make choices about what to keep, what to digitalize, and what to throw away.

I suggest we convert the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building into a giant repository of "stuff that's not the most popular material."

Posted by: MsJS | April 1, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Excellent idea, MsJS! (And excellent use of a previous kit.)

Posted by: Raysmom | April 1, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Arlington5 - I see you made the point about digital obsolescence both earlier and better than did I.

BTW - does anyone have an 8-inch floppy disk reader about?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 1, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

No, but I have an old computer with a defunct hard drive that is still able to read 3.5 inch floppies. (See previous kit and boodle regarding accumulation of junk.)

Posted by: Raysmom | April 1, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I have 3.5 floppy on a USB dongle, that's make me a geek, right?

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 1, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

SCC delete 's, add makes

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 1, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Floppy dongles mean that you have more problems than geekdom, SD.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 1, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

OK, deep breath:
Slyness asks how I got interested in the topic of 17th century paedophile priests. It's not a subject I'd have chosen by my own free will. I was looking through the "European" folder in the university careers office towards the end of my degree, and found a leaflet on the European University Institute in Florence. The closing date for applying for a doctorate was a week away, so I filled it in, just fancying a trip to the interview in Italy. Under 'title of doctoral subject' I put educational reforms, because I had just written an essay on education in the Protestant Revolution (time of Cromwell). The interview was in French, my French was better than the interviewer's, and suddenly I was accepted into a research programme in Italy without a clue how to progress. In desperation at my lack of experience the professor suggested a nearby archive of a religious order, and after several months/years of scrabbling about not really knowing what I was doing .. I had cobbled together a doctoral thesis on pedagogical innovation by the Piarists (Scolopi). Years later I started reading denials by the Catholic church saying priestly paedophilia had never happened before, that it was all a plot by the American media, one Cardinal even suggested a Jewish conspiracy, and suddenly I thought 'hang on... I have documentary evidence from the 1620s at least...' By then the Inquisition archive had been opened up (at least partially) and I thought it would be very interesting to go back and take a closer look at those documents. And yes, it was 'forensic', because one should not make such accusations lightly.

MsJS asks why the variety of subjects I write about is "distressing". It's not distressing for me, it's the spice of life, but it is distressing for publishers and publicists who would like to pigeon-hole authors. After all, if you buy a John Grisham or a JK Rowling you know more or less what you are getting... If you buy a Karen Liebreich (please do!), you haven't a clue! Maybe a gardening book, maybe a true-life mystery about a letter in a bottle found on the beach, maybe an expose of paedophilia, maybe a ski manual - you get the picture?

Curmudgeon6 - five tricky questions I couldn't begin to answer. Rashomon - love the ditty.

Posted by: karenliebreich | April 1, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Karen -- let me add my own greetings from the Boodle.

Interesting description of how you got into this subject. And, as well all know, the Butler really *did* do it, but only because he was Jewish. Cheeze Louise!

Jesus, of course, would choke on all of this. But the same Cardinals wound indeed compete with each other to be the first to kill him were he with us today. A crock indeed.

Do you knit, perchance?

Posted by: -ftb- | April 1, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

I think My Librarian is hot. I've only seen her smile once. At me. That pretty much sealed the deal.swoon

Posted by: omni3 | April 1, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

By the time I click that link to JHU they had already changed it back.

The distressing thing about the Google name change is I actually went and changes my bookmarks in Safari and Firefox, and now I'll have to change them back tomorrow.

The comments to the 53 cars towed were as funny as the story. My fave is: The correct spelling and grammar on the free parking signs should have been a giveaway.

Posted by: omni3 | April 1, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

SCC: clicked

changes => changed

Posted by: omni3 | April 1, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I got a hold of a "bad" book recently. It's large and three inches thick which is okay except that they ran the print too close to the inner crack of the book, which probably has a name. To view the text you must mash down with alarming force, and risk splitting the spine wide open. This sort of thing was probably considered, rightly, not the way to make a book, not too long ago. Nowadays, well.

I read something about how the evaluation of the value of wilderness needs to include the comfort we feel simply knowing it is there.

This is how I feel about thirty-year-old Alabama geology shelved in University libraries.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 1, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Karen, I am relieved it's the publishers who are distressed, not you. Fie on pigeon-holes, unless one is an actual pigeon. I love the topics, though. It leaves the door wide open for just about anything.

I mean, if Rowling were to write a gardening book, we'd immediately start looking for magic potions, mandrakes and the like. We already have expectations.

Your rapid-fire delivery of how you got into the "Fallen Order" topic was pretty impressive.

*stomach-alarm going off*

Posted by: MsJS | April 1, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Delighted you returned, KarenL, and that is a great story about the apply-for-doctoral-program-on-impulse. Ivansdad laughed mightily.

Mudge omitted a crucial Boodle question: What do you think of the Designated Hitter Rule? Or, more precisely, do you agree that the designated hitter rule exacerbated the collapse of the global economy and signals the moral decline of Western civilization?

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 1, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Actually I'd expect a medicinal plant gardening book from Rowling, with rich history of the British isles. She's sharp on her herbal myths in those books.

I mean, she had Snape prevent the scars of sectumsempra with dittany, which is often used to improve the circulation and treat flatulence.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 1, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Karen, so good of you to check in with us, and thanks for answering my question! That's an interesting way to fall into a doctorate program.

Don't worry about the designated hitter rule, it's baseball and Mudge is the only one who can explain it. I enjoyed looking at the Chiswick kitchen garden website. It must have been a lot of work but much fun. Since the foundation has taken it over, are you out of the project completely? Please stick around and chat when you can!

Tough afternoon. We got stuck in traffic around a wreck so it took 2.5 hours to get up the mountain instead of 2. Then the cable was messed up so Mr. T was afraid he wouldn't get to see the NIT final. Fortunately, I started pushing buttons and managed to find some that worked.

Posted by: slyness | April 1, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Plenty of old books in our library,but some have nice neat new covers thanks to paper bags from grocery stores.I think that is a lost art.Making a book cover out of a grocery bag.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 1, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

I can make paper
out of groceries and books;
the problem's stopping.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 1, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

*smacking forehead for forgetting designated hitter question*

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 1, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Very glad to have you aboard, Karen! But we simply MUST find you a proper nom de Boodle...

*trundling off to the "Available" index card files to find the handle*


Posted by: Scottynuke | April 1, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, good point on the comfort of knowing they're there. Unfortunately, I don't know that those in charge of making funding decisions for the libraries would necessarily agree.

Posted by: -bia- | April 1, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse


"Plagiarism_Buster" has a nice ring to it.

But would "NormallyDistressed" or "DistressinglyNormal" be more appropriate?

"TheAccidentalDoctor" is just too easy...

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 1, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

I love books, they were my best and sometimes only friends when I was growing up. For my entire life up until a couple of years ago there was never a day when I didn't have library books checked out. Then what happened: the internet, Amazon,,, Google Books. Blogs, online magazines & newspapers, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. I still read physical books, but my world has definitely changed. Now I enthusiastically embrace all formats of the literary arts.

Last week I "read" _The Beautiful and Damned_ via librivox audio. There was a passage I particularly liked, so I looked it up on Google Books to get the exact quote, and then posted some of it on Twitter.

"What a feeble thing intelligence is, with its short steps, its waverings, its pacings back and forth, its disastrous retreats! Intelligence is a mere instrument of circumstances. There are people who say that intelligence must have built the universe--why, intelligence never built a steam engine! Circumstances built a steam engine. Intelligence is little more than a short foot-rule by which we measure the infinite achievements of Circumstances."

--F. Scott Fitzgerald


Books, yep, gotta love em. If you want to read a book about how great books are, you could try _A Splendor of Letters_ by Nicholas Basbanes.

Posted by: kbertocci | April 1, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

What bertooch said about books.


Ok, tonight's burning Boodle poll/discussion: Sunday's Easter ham: with pineapple and cloves, or not? A thick brown sugar crust, or something else?

Au gratin potatoes, or something else?

Somebody had asparagus on sale, so my wife bought two bundles today: they were pencil-thin. So that's what we're having.


karenL, we have yet to hear your voice on things culinary.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 1, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Schwarzwald prep on the ham for sure, 'Mudge. With some good Meerrettich-based mustard... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 1, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Bought the ham and asparagus already, Mudge. Also got some squash, now the question is: casserole or split and baked with Parmesan? I'll have to think about it. Also made a small brownie trifle before I left home, I've never made one three days out, so it will be interesting to see if it's okay on Sunday. If not, it'll be an excuse to go out for ice cream. I'm also thinking pineapple and cheese casserole. You wouldn't think that would be a good combination but it's always a crowd pleaser.

Posted by: slyness | April 1, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

While not a true Baltimoron, I did have a German grandmother, so I'm partial to sauerkraut.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 1, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Mudge we usually have my husbands scallop potatoes with ham, potatoes are cooked with mushroom soup, onions, cheese, butter and then slow cooked. Very good, very rich, but low cal soup etc can be used.

Not a fan of cloves or pineapple in ham, mom used a beer mixture, I tend to use juice, orange or cranberry mixed with honey or maple syrup.

We also have twice baked pototes sometimes that would be good with ham, lots of cheese, bacon and onion, again not the most low cal item but so tasty.

I shall now cease with our plebian cooking and let the experts weigh in.

Posted by: dmd3 | April 1, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Not plebian at all, dmd; my mouth is watering.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 1, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Not that I'm cooking dinner, but I'd put a thick paste of horseradish mustard over a scored ham and press down hard with a brown sugar coating. Or Cincinnati Chili seasonings instead of just cloves, but only with a hot/sweet mustard.

Pineapple Stuffing, no question.

My thoughts have turned to Jersey and heirloom tomatoes. I'm probably going to put in another raised bed garden this year, #3.

Two questions of the Boodle: (1) if someone were careless enough to forget her electric lawnmower and outdoor extension cord on the covered back patio last fall and the roof leaked a little and it got wet, is it safe to use one or both? (2) I need a little chainsaw to dispatch volunteer trees. Electric? (I promise to put it in the garage after use) Gas?

Karen, great story.

I'm all for digitizing. Anything I can electronically search is a bonus. I read articles on my iPod and Blackberry. Why not books on a Kindle?

Posted by: -dbG- | April 1, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....Spam and Green eggs for my easter dinner......mmmmmmmmmm

Posted by: greenwithenvy | April 1, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Ham's fine, but my family goes old school (like TBG's, IIRC):

Lamb. It's What's for Easter.

Infused with garlic wedeges, seasoned, and roasted.

And no mint jelly -- sorry, mint jelly fans. A pan-dripping reduction/sauce over the lamb slices with roasted olive oil potatoes, orange/lemon yams and lemon-garlic asparagus.

Simple, but yummy.


Posted by: -bc- | April 1, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Roasted olive oil potatoes - that sounds great as does the orange/lemon yams and the asparagus. If you can't tell I usually eat the vegetables first in the meal.

dbG, how big are these volunteer trees? If they aren't that big a good saw will work, curved blade (don't know the proper name), or even a a good and large pruner, I have one that can cut fairly large limbs, long handles help you with the extra leverage. Perhaps I might have to stop in after my business trip, do some pruning and sawing for you - my favorite.

Posted by: dmd3 | April 1, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

dbG, if the mower and cord are dry *now,* go ahead and try it. If it doesn't run, it's probably a question of rust somewhere. Try a different cord (although I doubt the cord would be a problem. Worst case, it won't work...but it won't electrocute you, if that's what you are worried about.

I'd also recommend an electric chainsaw. I have a little one I got at Lowe's for about $50. The problems with gas ones are fuel, rope-pull starting, spark plugs, maintaining the spark plugs, etc. You're only talking about a small one anyway, not a lumberjack model. Get a good long extension cord and one of those plastic reel things.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 1, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

DbG look at these small arbor saws

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 1, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Hello boodle! In Paducah, KY for the night but unfortunately must depart too early to visit the National Quilt Museum before departing in the morning.

I'd forgotten what fun making the drive to FL can be this time of year. It's like watching spring in time lapse photography. Wild plums flowering just south of Champaign, IL and forsythia around Carbondale, redbuds in full glory approaching the Ohio River from the west.

Toodles boodle and sweet dreams.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 1, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Slyness - pineapple cheese casserole? Sounds wonderful! What else do you put in it?

Posted by: km2bar | April 1, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

dbG, look into reconditioned Husqvarna chain saws. I will buy one this year, because CPboy and friends should learn on my watch rather then randomly with some bears in the woods....

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 1, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

My valedictory address, on the Boodle.

Like Kbertocci, slyness, books were always my way of both approaching and retreating from the world. The way I understand it. Literary fiction and poetry, mostly. An open door, and a tunnel away. I do read non-fiction, maths, newspapers, biography, Derrida, F.R. Leavis, Constance May, etc. But, my way into the greater sympathy has been fiction and poetry.

Good night.

Posted by: Yoki | April 1, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I tend to view the world in terms of opportunities, not in terms of plans. Your flying leap into a doctoral program sets a fine example.

A tiny local science library has a six-volume work on insects by René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur,who seems to have lead a productive and happy 18th century life. The volumes are in fine condition, a testament to that century's workmanship.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 1, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Boodle! Good to know I'm not going to electrocute myself.

It's amazing how organized and productive I am at work but at home, not so much.

dmd, some are 3-5 inches in diameter. Are your plans firm and remind us of the dates? Will they let you over the border with implements of tree destruction in your car?

CqP, the image of you chasing bears in the woods with a chainsaw is very scary. Please make sure to include it in your own dissertation.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 1, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I like old books and magazines too, those tactile sensations of different papers, embossed covers, etc. - I like the smell of old paper, glue and leather.

Those old books do connect us with our pasts in interesting ways, like those old magazine ads of the Daze of Futures Passed (that old Popular Mechanics from 1968 says I'd have that flying car by 1985 - where is it?) and interesting hand-written inscriptions and notes. I have several old dictionaries that I find really interesting to peruse on cold nights. Gives me some insight as to how people thought in years past.

If the curtain is is drawn for humanity, those Last People can look to books, even when there's no electrical power to recharge digital readers or even run networks. Plus, I think boxes of remaindered Glenn Beck books will be around when the toilet paper runs out.

Try *that* with a Kindle.


Posted by: -bc- | April 1, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

My mom went to college because the bus she was riding one morning to work passed by a schoolyard and she realized that, having graduated from high school in the spring, she missed going to school.

So she got off the bus at a local college, went inside and took the entrance exam and then went back home and told her parents she wanted to go to college.

Luckily, she was the youngest and her parents were more open to sending a young woman to college. I believe she was the only one in her family to do so.

So there... an opportunity, not a plan.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 1, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

TBG, what a wonderful story! Someday, I'll tell the story of how I ended up at college.

Posted by: rickoshea1 | April 1, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

I have been known to spend a lot of time here:

This one's for bc...

Posted by: -TBG- | April 1, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

I just discovered something really cool
If you type short lines into
A language translator
Translate to spanish
then french
then italian
and back to
It all rhymes

Posted by: omni3 | April 1, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, TBG, that's a hoot.


Posted by: -bc- | April 1, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

For my next trick I'm gonna figure aut meter and spelling

Posted by: omni3 | April 1, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

What I wanna know is does is, does KarenL Knit?

Posted by: omni3 | April 1, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

More bears.

The white markings make that bear a Southern gentleman.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 1, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

SCC makes


Posted by: shrieking_denizen | April 1, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Kbert, good to hear from you, and great comment. Hope all is well with you and family.

Yes, I'm up, and grandsons have been here, and flew the coop. They're with the daughter and the g-girl. No one wants to hang with grandma, because she's hugging the bed!

Pretty warm here today, in fact, almost hot. Sleep well.

Posted by: cmyth4u | April 2, 2010 12:38 AM | Report abuse

I’m a books person. Me and paper get along well. Me and machine and electrical gadgets? Not so much. When I was in college, doing research on a top took twice as long because I get distracted by other books that had nothing to do with my research top.

Posted by: rainforest1 | April 2, 2010 3:30 AM | Report abuse

Bye bye Boodle. I'm off to Arizona. Remember: Stand on a corner next Friday.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 2, 2010 5:16 AM | Report abuse

Travel safe, yello.

Posted by: rainforest1 | April 2, 2010 5:30 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Morning, friends. Got a little bit of rest, but I'm babysitting the lizard. The owners are somewhere else. They're here, the grandsons, and they are big guys. They look well. I'm so happy to see them. One of them looks just like my son. The other one favors their mother. They like to stay up at night, and my daughter slept all day yesterday, so they opted to stay with her. She can hang with them. I cannot. I think the lizard was tired from the ride too.

The weather here is almost too hot, but I'm not complaining, not one bit. I hope it's nice where you are.

Yello, be safe.

Have a wonderful day, and think on the day, Good Friday. The blessing at the beginning says it all. Love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | April 2, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Morning, friends. Got a little bit of rest, but I'm babysitting the lizard. The owners are somewhere else. They're here, the grandsons, and they are big guys. They look well. I'm so happy to see them. One of them looks just like my son. The other one favors their mother. They like to stay up at night, and my daughter slept all day yesterday, so they opted to stay with her. She can hang with them. I cannot. I think the lizard was tired from the ride too.

The weather here is almost too hot, but I'm not complaining, not one bit. I hope it's nice where you are.

Yello, be safe.

Have a wonderful day, and think on the day, Good Friday. The blessing at the beginning says it all. Love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | April 2, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

A lizard? Tell us more Cassandra. How big is it? It's in a cage I hope! Do you have to feed it (ugh). Glad you had a visit from the grandsons, how old are they now? Gee I'm nosy this morning, aren't I?

Posted by: badsneakers | April 2, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

What could be finer than double Cassandra on a Friday? :-)

Make sure you're on the corner and not in the street, yello!!!

Karzai's losing his mind...

*trying-desperately-to-get-through-this-TFSMIF-in-order-to-enjoy-the-Sawx-tomorrow-at-Nats-Park Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | April 2, 2010 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Take it easy, yello. Safe there, safe home.

Bc! Tell me Saying all the networks might come down was some kind of rhetorical flourish. Mo and I would have to work for a living. (I'd wouldn't dare even think that about databases because we DBAs are very superstitious. But without all that hardware stuff, well, databases just wouldn't be practical.) Not to mention half the classwork I slaved over would be useless.

Posted by: -dbG- | April 2, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Evolutionary psychology, classic literature, "Friends," and cognitive theory, fom the New York Times:

"The road between the two cultures — science and literature — can go both ways. 'Fiction provides a new perspective on what happens in evolution,' said William Flesch, a professor of English at Brandeis University."

Posted by: kbertocci | April 2, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Frosty - There's a National Knitting Museum?

Reality is so remarkably detailed.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 2, 2010 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all, hi Cassandra! I hope you have a pleasant visit with your grandsons. And I hope the lizard is a good visitor and doesn't lose itself!

Mountain life! Mr. T is still asleep; on a normal Friday, he would have been at work for an hour already. I think I'll fix myself some breakfast in a little while. I don't know what we'll end up doing today.

Frosti,have a safe trip! My mother used to say that spring travels north about ten miles a day. It also travels about the same in altitude. Trees are well on their way to leaves at home, it will be 2-3 weeks before that occurs here in the mountain.

Km2bar, I will look up the pineapple cheese casserole recipe and post. It's really easy - and good.

Posted by: slyness | April 2, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

No national knitting museum, but it is well represented in most collections. Sigh.

Posted by: --dr-- | April 2, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Ouch. I was thinking Quilt but typed Knitting. This is what happens when you boodle before coffee.

But, come, this is a prime opportunity. I mean, if there isn't a National Knitting Museum, then there sure should be. Heck I can see the NKM as a great investment opportunity. We would start with the Hall of Scarves. Needles Through the Ages. And, for our more mature guests, a discrete exhibit entitled "Naughty Knitting"

I'm thinking it'll be, like, huge.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 2, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

There is a textile museum in Toronto, my daughter went on a field trip one time and really enjoyed it, also the Bata Shoe museum which is supposed to be great. Ceramic museum is quite popular as well, someday I really should play tourist in my own area.

Posted by: dmd3 | April 2, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 2, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Fabulous Good Friday here, hope the weather is improving for badsneaks area. I am off in a little bit to help someone clean up their yard. They are selling their house due to a serious progression of cancer in the family. Very sad a person who has fought a long battle.

Posted by: dmd3 | April 2, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle.

It doesn't seem to be getting much coverage, but in fact we have an American woman astronaut in space. It's just we didn't put her there, that's all.

From the AP story:

"Before the pre-launch briefing early Friday, [Tracy] Caldwell Dyson - a lead vocalist in Houston-based all-astronaut rock band Max-Q - drew on her musical talents by regaling her friends, colleagues and relatives with a solo rendition of Garth Brooks' country hit "The River."

"In a final statement to a commission of international space officials, Caldwell Dyson said in Russian: "As our captain said, we are ready."

"Well-wishers and family crowded the bus taking the astronauts to the launch pad [at Baikonur, Kazahkstan] where Yuri Gagarin began the first human trip into orbit in 1961, taking pictures and pressing their hands against the window in final greetings."

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 2, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

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