Friday, November 30, 2007

Jennifer John, Librarian

I have been thinking about Jennifer John today. I spoke of her in a previous entry.

So I went to and typed in her father's name. Three entries came up. The first one looked like a possibility even though the address was not that of the family's previous home. Within minutes, I was reconnecting with Mr. John!

It took a few more days for Jennifer and me to connect by phone. That wonderful business that did research for people also shifted to providing an organizing and cataloging service of a business' documents. The main clients were oil and gas and engineering firms. When the recession hit, then the business slowed. Jennifer has done a variety of things since then including working in the Austin Public Library. She presently does training of library personnel through Central Texas Library Systems. Jennifer is now Jennifer Patterson. She also participates in their blog.

Monday, November 26, 2007

My photo may appear in Schmap's Guide to New York City

I got an email saying one of my photos has been selected to appear in Schmap's Guide to New York City! The edition that might have my photo will appear in early December. They will notify me if my photo is published.

If you look at their site, you will see a map on the left with pointers to places. When you mouse over a pointer, information shows up on the far right describing the location. My photo is of the American Museum of Natural History. The photo would show up above the description. The photos in that location are dynamic and are rotated with other photos.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Discover History: Thanksgiving

There is one last web site that should be included in a review of the history of Thanksgiving. This is a post by Jeremy Bangs, Ph.D., Leiden University and a fellow of the Pilgrim Society. It is called, Thanksgiving on the net: Roast bull with cranberry sauce. It considers whether setting people straight about Thanksgiving myths is as much a part of Thanksgiving as "turkey, cranberry, and pumpkin pie."

Since I have been a vegetarian since about 1994, my turkey might be soy turkey and the pumpkin pie is without egg. Sometimes we have gone to a Turkish restaurant, Beyoglu's, on Thanksgiving where they did have a traditional turkey and cranberry meal for meat eaters and I could have a middle eastern vegetarian meal. My meal several years ago is pictured above. I don't have a photo for this year because Beyoglu's was closed for Thanksgiving this year.

So instead, we ended up at P. J. Clark's in Lincoln Center. The lighting was not so good for photos and I was so hungry that I ate the food forgetting to take the photo first. P. J. Clark's has really good food! The photo is the bar inside P. J. Clark's.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

More about the origins of Thanksgiving

After some looking around at what the Internet offers on Thanksgiving and its origins, I have a more complete sense of the historical issues and also of what various people wish to emphasize. It is always important to consider a writer's/historian's personal bias as you read. As usual, there is the issue of how much religion is in the holiday.

Religion is one issue for Dennis Rupert in his explanation of The True Thanksgiving Story. He does give his references (by footnote, bibliography, and links). It appears that the Pilgrim's feast was in an American native tradition of thanksgiving festivals held at various times of the year, making Thanksgiving truly American and certainly allowing for alternate times, such as the Canadian Thanksgiving. Rupert's tracing of early Christian Thanksgivings begins in Texas on May 23, 1541 with the European Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado.

Walter McCabe (1942-2005), a person who had learning disabilities despite intelligence in the superior range, made quite a few web pages on Thanksgiving, as well as other holidays. Walter does not list any sources and writes in non-standard English telling about "Tisquantum," whom the English called Squanto. In his story, Squanto, from the Wampanoag confederation, was captured by Captain George Weymouth and taken to England to live with Sir Ferdinando Gorges, one of the merchant ship owners, who taught him some English. Apparently, Squanto was being taught the language so he could and did return to Americas to assist as interpreter to those exploring the coast of America.

In 1614, Squanto returned to America with Captain John Smith on a mapping expedition. Smith left the project to his replacement Captain Thomas Hunt who captured 27 natives, sailed with them to Spain where he sold them as slaves. Squanto was lucky enough to be purchased by Friars who nursed him back to health and taught him about Jesus. It is not clear if they also taught him any Spanish. He lived with the Friars until 1618 when he took a ship to Newfoundland, where he was recognized by Captain Thomas Dermer, who wrote a letter to Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Gorges organized an expedition with Dermer taking Squanto as interpreter to re-establish trade with the native Americans. In 1918, Squanto was returned to Patuxet, his home, where he found the entire population was wiped out by a European disease. Squanto lived with a neighboring tribe until the pilgrims settled in the same location as Patuxet. Squanto also negotiated the release of Dermer who had been captured at Cape Cod by Nausets.

The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) has an interview with Eric Metaxas, who wrote Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving while working as the editorial director and head writer for Rabbit Ears (specialized in children's picture books with an audio read by celebrities; bought by Listening Library, the children's division of Random House Audio). Metaxas emphasizes in the interview that his work is based on research using the original documents from the 1620s and 1630s. He confirms "that around 1612, a trader, a Captain Hunter, came to the coast of Massachusetts and was trading with the Indians." Captain Hunter sailed to Malaga, Spain where the Spanish monks bought Squanto from a slave market. Metaxas says that in 1615 Squanto went from Spain to England in hopes of getting a ship back to America. He worked for a family named Slaney as a stable boy for about five [sic] years until 1618. A ship is eventually provided and Squanto signs on as interpreter. Metaxas says the time from his capture until his return to Patuxet around 1620 was about ten years [sic], so even researchers have some trouble with time periods. Metaxas tells of the devestation Squanto must have felt in finding out that all of his people have been wiped out by disease. Metaxas also tells of Squanto going to live with a neighboring tribe until the Europeans settled in the same location as his former home, where he joined them.

Education World has a number of resources listed for teaching Thanksgiving in schools. Education World is a free resource for educators funded by corporate sponsors and advertisers.
Chuck Larsen, himself a descendant of native Americans, writes a foot-noted introduction with bibliography to Teaching about Thanksgiving where Larsen writes, "Squanto, the Indian hero of the Thanksgiving story, had a very real love for a British explorer named John Weymouth, who had become a second father to him several years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth. Clearly, Squanto saw these Pilgrims as Weymouth's people." He also states that the Wampanoag natives were not friendly, due to Hunter's capturing their youth, and were invited to the Thanksgiving as a step in the process of "negotiating a treaty that would secure the lands of the Plymouth Plantation for the Pilgrims."

Education World also lists web sites that refute many of Larsen's statements. One such web site is that of Caleb Johnson of Mayflower, who is himself a Mayflower descendant, and is a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants through his nine Mayflower ancestors. He has spent more than ten years researching the Mayflower and has published numerous books for sale at his web site. His web page refuting Larsen is indeed most factual, not only listing the names of sources, but also giving sizable, direct quotes. Johnson refutes the Captain John Weymouth story by indicating that his name was really Captain George Weymouth, which agrees with the name on Walter McCabe's web page. Johnson also includes Sir Ferdinando Gorges in Squanto's life, but only the second incident after Dermer's letter. He also gives a page of full-text, downloadable sources in pdf. Johnson's story of Tisquantum starts with his capture by Hunter and continues until his death. The same page also describes several other native personalities who were important at the time.
Back to Rupert's web site, we learn that Thanksgiving was not celebrated in Plymouth every year after that first feast held sometime between September 21 and November 11, 1621. Plymouth brought the celebration back in July 1624 after a drought led to prayer and reconciling with others, followed by days of a light, gentle rainfall. December 18, 1777 was the first time Thanksgiving was celebrated by all thirteen colonies to commemorate the "patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga."
"President George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving for November 26, 1789 to honor the formation of the United States government. His proclamation called for a day of prayer and giving thanks to God. It was to be celebrated by all religious denominations, but discord among the colonies prevented it from being practiced by all the states" (Rupert).
Perhaps Thanksgiving should really be the celebration of the United States processes of lawmaking. Thanksgiving remained a function of Presidential Proclamation until it became a law that took effect in 1942. Rupert states,
"Only Presidents Washington, Adams, and Madison declared national days of thanks in their terms. Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams considered the practice to infringe upon the separation of church and state. During the War of 1812, President Madison proclaimed three days of fasting and prayer in response to Congressional requests (August 20, 1812, September 9, 1813, and January 12, 1815). He was the last president to call for a national thanksgiving until Abraham Lincoln in 1863."
Lincoln's proclamation was the result of 40 years of efforts by Sarah Josepha Hale, a woman's magazine editor living in Boston. Her efforts led to State Governors proclaiming a Thanksgiving Day beginning with New York in 1830. The Territory of Minnesota made their first proclamation to celebrate Thanksgiving on December 26, 1850. By 1852, 27 states proclaimed the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. Then Hale's letter to Lincoln resulted in his proclamation, which was also the last Thursday of November.

In 1939, President Roosevelt was persuaded by the National Retail Dry Goods Association to proclaim the next to last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day in a year when there were 5 Thursdays and in order to "create a longer Christmas shopping season." Twenty-three states celebrated the "Republican" Thanksgiving on November 23, with 23 other states celebrating the "Democratic" Thanksgiving on November 30. "Texas and Colorado declared both Thursdays to be holidays." The confusion that ensued over the next two years led to Congress' legislation declaring Thanksgiving to be on the fourth Thursday of the month. This is a great story to tell in November 2007 when November has five Thursdays.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!


"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset." These are the dying words of Ispwo Mukika Crowfoot, a Blackfoot Indian who was twenty years old in 1803, the same year that Lewis and Clark launched their famous expedition. It is reported in a Thanksgiving article telling about Squanto, who helped the Pilgrams in planting food before the winter. The article also says:

"What you didn't know is that long before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, this same Squanto had been captured by two English sea captains, George Weymouth and John Hunt, and abused as a slave for fourteen years. Squanto had been free less than five years when Capt. John Bradford's Pilgrims arrived on the good ship Mayflower."

Unfortunately, history is full of things we do not know. This only points to the necessity to learn history. The American natives were and are amazing people.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

PodCamp Boston: Famous Dinosaur delivers some laughter

PodCamp Boston 2 was October 26-28, 2007. A person named Ewan Spence, Vice President (Stuff) at The Podcast Network, had a Sunday presentation from 1 pm to 2 pm called The Circle of Podcasting. I watched his video explaining that he had some idea about testing what would happen if he showed a PowerPoint presentation during his talk that had nothing to do with what he was talking about.

Late Saturday night before the presentation, he and his friends were discussing what content should be shown. They came up with the idea of LOLsaurs, which means that they combed Flickr for photos of dinosaurs with CC licensing. Then they added funny captions to the photos using Flickr toys. I guess those made it into the PowerPoint presentation for Ewan's talk, which was October 28. On October 27, they also created a quick, free WordPress blog as a showplace the LOLsaurs. They got all excited because by Sunday noon, their LOLsaur blog was number one on Digg. However, the tide turned against them and they got a lot of negative comments after that. Chris Brogan kept the perspective on the project with his entry, "Why LOLsaur really is cool!" If you do a search on Digg for LOLsaur, you get Chris's blog entry.

There is a very famous dinosaur nicknamed Dave by Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History. Dave was Mark's introduction to dinosaurs with feathers in China. [Norell nicknamed the specimen "Dave," a reference to the communication difficulties with the Chinese while Norell was jet-lagged as being analogous to "an old Cheech and Chong routine--one where Cheech Marin attempts very unsuccessfully to communicate with his friend Tommy Chong about the whereabouts of a character named Dave" (from Unearthing the Dragon, p.173).] You can read more about it under Dave's photo. Incredibly, I was able to see Dave with other New Yorkers and I took his photo. Mark's book is also most interesting, not only for the information about the dinosaurs, but also because Mark told about the mash-up between the cultures of the United States and China. I am showing Dave's photo here first before the altered photo of Dave as an LOLsaur.

Dave is very special to me. I don't mind the LOLsaurs (some are quite funny or cute), but Dave and what he represents is much more important. Dave made it into the LOLsaurs blog on November 9th so he missed being part of number 1 on Digg. However, since interest in LOLsaurs has died down, only one other LOLsaur has been posted since Dave, making him the second entry on the home page. That is not a bad place to be.

He was created as an LOLsaur by Wendell Oskay, one of Ewan's friends. Wendell has a blog called, Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories: Making the world a better place one mad scientist at a time. Dave also made it to this Mad Scientist blog on November 9th. Wendell's blog is rather interesting and promises to present a new project every Wednesday. In any case, I can't complain as there is always a link back to Dave on my Flickr site (a requirement of my CC license). It is great for Dave to get any and all publicity. He deserves it!

So that is how Dave got his start as a comedian. However, his real contribution is to Mark Norell's understanding of feathers on dinosaurs and through Mark the rest of the Western world gained that understanding.

Monday, November 05, 2007


It is the questions we ask that determine the quality of our lives.

More to come . . .

Sunday, November 04, 2007

About Social Networking

My first adventures in social networking were with Flickr. When I joined Flickr in August 2004, they had a chat room feature, Flickr Live. It was really wonderful and I met many people there. Flickr was still small then. Sometime later, someone broke into the code of the chat room and it was immediately taken down and never seen since. Note: As you can see from my links, I also save photos at Smug Mug, where generally I put whole sets of photos rather than better photos as is my present goal on Flickr.

In those early Flickr days, I looked at the photos of all the Flickr staff. So I noticed immediately when Esther Dyson joined Flickr and became one of her contacts. I have always watched Esther because her father is also a physicist. She sort of out did me though - with her stories of thinking Einstein was Santa Claus. My dad talked about Einstein, but I have no reason to believe he ever met Einstein. My dad was educated at Rice Institute (today, Rice University). He drove us through the campus every Sunday after church to show us all the buildings, especially the one where they split atoms.

I joined MySpace a couple of years ago because I discovered I could keep up with my nieces and nephews there (2 nephews are in Iraq with a second cousin leaving for Iraq soon). Almost all of my young relatives post photos which I download and share with my Mom. Sometimes I post their photos on Flickr so more of the family can see them. The photos are restricted to my family.

In July, I started Graduate School in Library and Information Science at Queens College (the campus is seen in the photo to the right with Manhattan in the background taken on a rainy day). In one of my classes we were urged to network. This led to my eventual joining of Facebook. I also joined several listservs.

Google mail is perfect for listservs. I can set a filter to have all the email from each listserv go into its own folder that I can then check when I have time. The emails do not get mixed up with my regular mail. I have learned through the years of trying lists using both individual emails and digest versions that there are advantages and disadvantages to each form. Individual emails are easier to reply to. Digests don't flood your email or get mixed up in the listing with your other email. Digests are also VERY long and it is hard to find something you read later. But with Google mail, I do not get the individual emails in with my regular email, so I no longer have to use a digest version. I can also mark the individual emails that I want to refer back to using Google's yellow star.

As for Facebook, I joined it one day and then ran off to other things. It sat there for a while until someone I knew from Flickr asked for me to make him a friend. I then looked for library groups and groups for other subjects I am interested in. Facebook saves users time by listing related groups on every group page.

I used their feature for importing my gmail addresses. A number of my friends were already on Facebook. So slowly, my set of Facebook friends has grown. David Pogue is even my friend. At the time he made me his friend, I was his 11th friend. I think he may have just joined Facebook on that Sunday right after I imported my gmail address book the day before. I may have been responsible for his joining.

However, it turns out that there is more librarian and student librarian action on MySpace. I added Queens College to my list of schools on MySpace. I joined MySpace's QC LISSA group (Queens College Library and Information Science Student Association) and asked the QC LISSA members to be my friends. QC LISSA has forty-some-odd members on MySpace and only about 10 on Facebook. I think I prefer the communication formats on Facebook, though.

An October 25th New York Times article says that Facebook claims 50 million active members with 200,000 new ones added each day. The article continues to say that MySpace has more than twice as many members but is growing more slowly. Facebook's growth spurt started in May when it invited developers to create tools for the site and to share in its revenues. I found the following quotation in the article especially interesting (although note that MySpace is not mentioned).
“Once a social operating system takes over a country, it’s like it becomes the native language of that country,” said Lee Lorenzen, a venture capitalist who has invested in companies making Facebook applications. Mr. Lorenzen noted that Google’s Orkut dominates Brazil, Friendster dominates the Philippines and Facebook is becoming the dominant forum in the United States, Canada and Western Europe.
Now that I have gotten into some of this librarian networking, I do remember that the librarian at the middle school where I spent 11 years working was always getting emails from other librarians. I helped her set up a free email account so she could subscribe to the various lists.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Some Library Resources

There are so many people cataloging and collecting information. Here are some links to a few recommended by my sister's friend who is a librarian.

"Multimedia Librarian is aimed at librarians and information professionals who work with multimedia formats. It is a forum for collecting resources relevant to the library and information science profession as it pertains to audio-visual materials. These include, but are not limited to, digital media (Web-delivered formats, DVDs, CDs, etc.) and instructional technologies comprised of more than solely print content. Multimedia Librarian aims to recognize audio-visual resources as invaluable to the profession of librarianship and the propagation of information literacy." [Description taken from the site.]

"DoIS (Documents in Information Science) is a service for finding and downloading the latest research results in Information Science. DoIS is a database of articles and conference proceedings published in electronic format in the area of Library and Information Science. DoIS is a volunteer effort to create a free bibliographic resource of scientific texts specialized in Information Science."
[Description taken from the site.]

Google Librarian Central: Your Official Source for Google News, Tips, and Updates. While it is run by an associate marketing director, she attended the ALA conference and is collecting information for librarians.