Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Yarn bombing Calistoga library

Yarn bombing tag: "LOVE MY LIBRARY" attached to railing

Christmas weekend was a good one for installing “tags” at area libraries. On Saturday I attached a length of scalloping to the tine of a rusty bike rack at the Middletown library. On Sunday I sewed “ LOVE MY LIBRARY” to a railing at the Calistoga library.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

League bowling: my first game

Bowled my first Lake County Chamber of Commerce Bowling League game last night with the Lake County Record-Bee “Killer Bees.” The next game is in two weeks.

At the end of work today, Record-Bee publisher Gary Dickson had printouts from the night before and from the previous weeks of the league. My scores for last night’s three games were 67, 69 and 67. Consistent games, and my scores will likely improve with practice.

I enjoy bowling and will be given a “handicap” that compensates for my lower scores. The “handicap” will be based on the results of my first three games.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

League bowling: Repurposed team shirt

Cynthia M. Parkhill leans into frame of picture, wearing beaded and fringed black bowling shirt, red-patterned hat with earflaps and carrying bowling ball in brown bag under her right arm.
Updated photo, taken Feb. 7, 2012
Got my Record-Bee bowling team shirt fringed and beaded for tonight's games!
(Originally posted to Twitter)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Twitter and Storify at work

Record-Bee newsroom employees are supposed to use Twitter at work. People can post status updates with a limit of 140 characters. I was using Twitter already but now I’m using it as part of my regular routine at the Record-Bee.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Adults with autism ‘hidden in plain sight’


As reported in the LA Times, “Missing millions” of adults with autism are “hidden in plain sight.” I’m glad we’re finally being noticed. From the article:
“Scientists are just beginning to find cases that were overlooked or called something else in an earlier era. If their research shows that autism has always been present at roughly the same rate as today, it could ease worries that an epidemic is on the loose.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I will officially bowl with Record-Bee bowling team

I will officially bowl with the Lake County Record-Bee bowling team. I have my own team shirt and everything. The Record-Bee recently hosted a staff holiday party at the bowling alley in Lakeport. I played a pretty decent game and word got back to Shawn Garrison, the person who was organizing the team.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thank you for doing the right thing

“To publish an article without talking to people with autism … what were you thinking? On the other hand, it’s the norm!” — Landon Bryce to Alice G. Walton, related by Alice G. Walton

Sunday, December 4, 2011

‘Pedro and Me’ by Judd Winick

Pedro and Me (Henry Holt, 2000) is a graphic-format biography of HIV/AIDS educator Pedro Zamora. Zamora and author Judd Winick were roommates on MTV’s “Real World” television series.

Pedro and Me is a selection from the readings for a class in “Connecting Young Adults with the Library” that I’ve registered to take in the spring. It can be found shelved with Juvenile Biographies at Lake County Library’s Redbud Library.

Originally posted to the Facebook page of the Lake County Library

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Spare public libraries from the trigger

The California Library Association (CLA) is urging its members and library supporters to ask that libraries be spared from further state budget cuts.

Graphic: Support California LibrariesAs explained by the CLA, the Governor’s Budget in January proposed to eliminate $30.4 million in funding for three California library programs: the California Library Services Act, the Public Library Foundation and the state literacy program.  Thanks to heavy lobbying and strong grassroots support from the library community, the CLA was able to retain $15.2 million in funds for state library programs.

But Assembly Bill 121, the “Budget Trigger” bill, specified that if $4 billion in projected state revenues failed to materialize, there would be budget cuts at the beginning of the year that would eliminate the last of library funds.

The CLA reported in mid-November that the Legislative Analyst’s Office projected state revenues to be approximately $3 billion short. As a result, the CLA needs supporters to contact the governor and legislative leaders and ask, “Spare public libraries from the Trigger.”

Among the programs that are at risk is the cooperative loaning of materials from one library system to another.

I depend on my public library for various informational needs. This week I placed holds for books on a reading list for a class that I hope to take in the spring.

I am not the only one making use of California libraries. On “Library Snapshot Day” in October 2010, according to the CLA, 770,831 items were checked out or renewed.

As a volunteer each week for the Lake County Library, I observe first-hand the vital needs that our libraries meet. While I shelve returned items at the Middletown library, our director, Gehlen Palmer, is pulling hold-requests placed by library users in Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma counties.

Throughout our three counties, items are being pulled against similar lists two or three times each day. The Sonoma County Library, which hosts our libraries’ shared catalog, calculated that library cardholders placed more than 800,000 holds during fiscal year 2009.

Library materials continuously travel within our three-county network to connect people with the information they need.

Cooperative loaning between our system and Bay Area libraries gives me access to many more resources than any one system could provide. The proposed budget cuts would devastate this program and I would lose these vital resources that help to inform my life.

Many more Californians depend on libraries’ adult literacy resources. CLA statistics for “Library Snapshot Day” state that 26,962 people received literacy tutoring, homework help and information literacy at a library. Adult literacy learners will have nowhere else to turn if funding for these services is lost.

The loss of state funding would also jeopardize $15 million in federal funds for the Braille and Talking Book library.

All of the officials to whom the CLA asks library supporters to speak can be reached via web-based forms: Governor Jerry Brown, www.gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php; Darrell Steinberg, Senate president pro tempore, http://sd06.senate.ca.gov/contact; Bob Dutton, Senate minority leader, http://cssrc.us/web/31/contact_me.aspx; John A. Perez, speaker of the California State Assembly, http://asmdc.org/speaker/; and Connie Conway, Assembly Republican leader, http://arc.asm.ca.gov/member/34/?p=email.

For those readers who prefer to communicate with these officials through the U.S. mail, the CLA has compiled addresses. For more information visit www.cla-net.org/.

Published Nov. 29, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Sunday, November 27, 2011

‘Taking Back the Knit’

A worldwide movement is bringing knit and crochet into the realm of public art. As a crafter, this subject is of growing fascination to me.

Yarn bombing involves the “tagging” of objects but unlike conventional graffiti, there is no destruction to property. A New York Times headline describes yarn bombing as “Graffiti’s Cozy, Feminine Side.”


Projects range from small tags to large-scale installations of public art, often with labels identifying the solo artist or artists’ collective. Not every artist accepts the “yarn bombing” label for his or her art.


I have compiled these annotated resources for fellow knitters and crocheters who want to explore public dimensions for expressing their art.

Annotated Bibliography

Arahonian, Gregory and Richard Stim. Patenting Art & Entertainment: New Strategies for Protecting Creative Ideas. Berkeley: Nolo, 2004. EBSCOHost Legal Information Reference Center. Lake County Law Library. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.
This guide to patenting is produced by Nolo Press, a publisher that specializes in self-help law. Full-text chapters can be read online through the EBSCOHost Legal Information Reference Center. 
The book explains traditional protections for arts and entertainment and helps the artist answer the question, “Should You Apply for a Patent?” 
It distinguishes between “utility” and “design” patents and explains how to file their respective applications.  
EBSCO Host  includes a disclaimer with chapter summaries that “Legal information provided is not a substitute for personalized advice from a knowledgeable lawyer. If you want the help of a trained professional, please consult an attorney licensed to practice in your state.”

ARTS Obispo. ARTS Obispo Programs. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.

The San Luis Obispo County Arts Council details several programs that invite artist participation including Arts in Education, Open Studios Art Tour, Art After Dark, Arts Space Obispo (its downtown gallery), SLOCATS monthly roundtable, Art in Public Places, artist directory, opportunities and grants. Links allow detailed viewing for each program. While the list was compiled in 2009, information about individual programs is current for 2011.

Christiansen, Betty. Knitting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2006. Print.

This book aids the knitter in taking his or her craft into the realm of knitting for charity through profiles of existing groups. While not “yarn bombing,” it speaks to what this crafter views as a similar impulse: to make the world a better place. Possible applications include combining art and charity like “Chase the Chill,” detailed below.

City of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation. City of San Luis Obispo — Public Art. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

Presents an overview of three components that make up the city’s public arts program, which include Visual Arts in Public Places, Public Art in Private Development and Private Donations of Public Art. The program’s policies and procedures manual can be accessed as a PDF. A remote link takes viewers to the website of ARTS Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council.

City of San Luis Obispo Parks and Recreation. SLO Public Art Policies and Procedures Manual. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.

Last updated June 2011, the public art policies and procedures manual addresses city-funded public art, privately-funded public art, matching grants and public art in private development.
The manual offers the definition that “Public Art develops from the engagement of an artist with public space” and attempts to define public art by stating what it is and what it is not. According to the manual, public art must involve “original, creative work by an individual or group.”
Sections in the manual address application processes for each source of funding public art, including how and by whom art selections are approved.

Conaboy, Chelsea. “Anti-graffiti knit work, or ‘yarnbombing,’ brightens cityscape.” Philadelphia Inquirer 13 April, 2010. EBSCOHost. Lake County Library. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

Documents the craft of an area knitter who was inspired by Moore and Prain’s book. The author describes artist
Jessie Hemmons’ motivation is simple: “Times are tough. People want to see something bright and pretty.”

Goldstein, Jessica. “Tag, You’re Knit.” The Washington Post 2 July 2011: C1. ProQuest Newspapers. Cuesta College. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

Documents the efforts of a group of women to decorate a local bar, Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club, with knit hearts for ARTventures on H, a public art installation coordinated through the Capitol Hill’s Chamber of Commerce. Follows the project from the artists’ inspiration to its effect upon the hosting venue on the day of the event.

Howard, Caroline. “Names You Need to Know: Yarn Bombing.” Forbes 30 April 2011: 8. EBSCO Host. Lake County Library. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

Documents the appearance of yarn bombing in a show at L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The author focuses upon political messages in yarn bombing artists’ work, ranging from anti-nuclear proliferation to drawing attention to cracked sidewalks and potholes.

Huxley, Susan. Chase the Chill, the Original. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

Huxley’s Facebook page promotes an annual event that combines art, charity and yarn bombing to distribute scarves in public places. It originated in Easton, PA in fall 2010 and is expanding to Winnipeg, Canada. The 2011 “bombing” took place Nov. 5.

Idaho Library Association. Get Bombed! Yarn Bombed, That Is... Web. 23 Nov. 2011.

The ILA encourages yarn bombing to bring new crafters to the library as well as draw public attention to libraries’ “buildings, displays or events.” It compiles a list of resources that include books, websites and newspaper articles.

MicroRevolt. KnitPro. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.

MicroRevolt combines knitting with labor activism, particularly to draw attention to sweatshop labor conditions and the American clothing companies that exploit them. Its “KnitPro” application converts uploaded images into patterns suitable for cross-stitch, knitting or crochet.

Moore, Mandy and Leanne Prain. Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. 2nd ed. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009. Print.

This book is a comprehensive guide to yarn bombing. Its timeline traces the history of yarn bombing in a context of being part of a larger history that includes conventional graffiti. The book addresses construction and installation techniques as well as tips for assembling a crew. It includes artist profiles and extensive photos of artists’ work on scales both large and small.

Readers Digest. The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches: Over 900 Great Stitches Detailed for Needlecrafters of Every Level. Pleasantville: Readers Digest Association, 2003. Print.

Stitches form the building blocks from which textile artists create their art. This book assembles more than 900 stitches grouped by weight of yarn and type of stitch (lace, panels, ribs and edgings, etc.) Each stitch is illustrated with a color photograph.

Searle, Karen. Knitting Art: 150 Innovative Works from 18 Contemporary Artists. Minneapolis: Voyageur Press, 2008.

Searles profiles 18 knitters who create art for public display. The book includes photographs of each artist’s work.

Wollan, Malia. “Graffiti’s Cozy, Feminine Side.” New York Times. 19 May 2011: E-1. ProQuest Newspapers. Cuesta College. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

Comprehensive article profiles artists who are part of the “yarn bombing” phenomenon, including artists who reject the label (“I don’t yarn bomb, I make art”) and a growing commercial demand for better-known artists’ work. 

Compiled in Fall 2011 for Cuesta College LIBT 109 
Library Public Service

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Yarn bombing Rincon Valley Library

Attaching handle cozy on library book drop
My second tag, which I applied Sunday night, Nov. 20, was a book drop handle cozy for the Rincon Valley Library. I crocheted it out of sock yarn self-striping in brown and black.

I used the same yarn to create a loom-knit balaclava. I mixed a “Homespun” Lion Brand yarn in shades of green and brown, with two sock yarn skeins. The result was to mimic tree bark and I’m very pleased with the result.

As for the tag, it took two trips to the Rincon Valley Library: first to scout the area for an inspiring object to tag. I measured the length of the book-drop handle against the span of my hand’s pointer finger to thumb. I approximated the width from the curl of my fingers around the handle itself.

Inexact but successful and the second trip was to attach the finished piece. I posted photos on Facebook.com on a page specifically for “Yarn Bombing @ Your Library.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Corporate library scenario: a group recommendation

Olagen, Inc., a manufacturer of high-end cosmetics in the San Francisco Bay Area, employs some 450 people at its main office. Its “hard copy” library collection contains 3,000 books, 35 periodical titles, 200 technical reports, 200 training videotapes, 300 DVDs, 300 confidential product and competitor files and several loose leaf services.

In addressing policy issues for the Olagan corporate library, our group’s recommendation was that only employees have borrowing privileges in the library. Patrons would register with the librarian and would be given a user account that was based upon the employee’s ID number.

Books, periodicals, technical reports, training tapes, DVDs and loose leaf services would be permitted to circulate. Confidential product and competitor files would not be available; these would be classified as reference materials that could only be viewed in the library. An employee who wished to access them must have clearance with a higher-level manager.

The group suggests that check-out times vary depending upon projected demand and the need for turn-around: specifically that written materials such as books, periodicals and reports have a one-month check out time. Videos and DVDs would be limited to one-week check out.

Materials would be subject to annual consideration for weeding: products would be updated regularly because research changes.

Usage statistics and inventory would be kept by the librarian. The group recommends an automated catalog — either open-source like Scriblio or proprietary like SirsiDynix — to aid the librarian in compiling these statistics as well as to assist in keeping track of library inventory. We felt it would be particularly valuable for the librarian to document usage statistics to justify the library’s benefit as a corporate investment.

Concerning policy for overdue fees and other fines, the group recommended that overdue fees were unnecessary; employees would be charged to replace lost or damaged items.

In regard to library security, employees would only have access to the library during work hours. The group’s belief is that this library would not use interlibrary loan. For reasons of competitive intelligence, Olagen, Inc.’s corporate library would not lend out materials to other companies. However, it would provide document/resource delivery to Olagen, Inc. employees located at remote branch offices/sites.

Delivery would either be handled in-house as part of a staff courier’s route or, if use of library resources was above and beyond this normal traffic, it could be through a contractor. Either way, any charges would be coded to the department that requested the materials.

Only circulating materials would be eligible for document delivery. Items that were reference-only would not be delivered off-site.

Concerning the current staffing level of the Olagen, Inc. library: the group believes that a part-time, out-sourced LTA is insufficient given the important resource that the corporate library provides. Since information resources are among any competitive company’s most protected and valuable resources, it makes sense to expand this position.

The group suggests instead that Olagen, Inc., a sizable company, could benefit from hiring a full-time information specialist with subject expertise. This person could be more of a key player in the company’s day to day activities — present to actively seek out information that supports and furthers Olagen’s profit-making objectives, working directly with departments on special research projects, providing rapid access to journal articles and new research data, providing individualized services to its patrons, and providing secure access to its confidential files during business hours.

Compiled for Cuesta College LIBT 109, Library Public Services

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

First yarn bombing tag at Middletown library

Loom-knit tree sweater with tag: "Yarn Bombing @ Your Library"
Jonathan and I got up at 5 a.m. this morning so that I could stitch a piece of knitting to a tree at the Middletown library.

The “tree sweater” idea came from a book that I checked out through the library: Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009. I’d been intrigued by yarn bombing since seeing pictures in my Lion Brand catalog.

I requested the book and arranged for pick-up at the Middletown library so I suppose that makes the yarn bomber’s identity a fairly obvious one.

(That and the newspaper column that listed the book among others in my favorite knitting books).

But I plan to “tag” other libraries in the area where my identity may not be so obvious. I have my own pin-on tags that say “Yarn Bombing @ Your Library;” they’ll accompany my pieces.

Transcribed from personal journal

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Winter is a great time to knit

Caps and "doughnuts," caps without tops, knit on circular knitting looms.

The rain that fell on Saturday accelerated my interest in knitting hats — and in reviewing my favorite books on the subjects of knitting and crochet.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Double-thick loom-knit hats with rolled brims

Loom-knit hats in a variety of colors, one still on the circular knitting loom

These hats were created with Lion Brand's Homespun on Provo Craft knitting looms. The hats are my own creation, based upon techniques taught in Isela Phelp's book Loom Knitting Primer. They were knit as tubes to a length that was nearly twice that of the desired length of the finished hats, then folded back to create a double-thickness for warmth. The men's hats include enough length to accommodate a rolled brim. The crown's last inch-and-a-half to two inches was knit single-layer thick to allow ease when gathering.

Originally posted to Facebook

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ready reference using the web: Edgar Allan Poe

For ready reference using the web, I chose to look up readers’ guides on the stories and poems of Edgar Allan Poe. I chose Poe to coincide with my county’s focus in October on Poe’s works for “The Big Read.”

Saturday, October 22, 2011

‘The Steampunk Bible’ by Jeff VanderMeer

Some of my favorite science fiction stories (Doctor Who and Star Trek: The Next Generation among them) bring characters from the future into the Victorian age.

The Steampunk Bible by Jeff VanderMeer with S. J. Chambers (Abrams Image, 2011) offers an illustrated guide to an aesthetic that has its roots in the works of Jules Verne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Originally posted to the Facebook page of the Lake County Library

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Make a difference in the lives of animals

As Lake County residents prepare to take part in “Make a Difference Day” this coming Saturday, I hope they will consider ways that they can make a difference daily in the lives of companion animals.

Sunday marked National Feral Cat Day, an annual observance that draws attention to the plight of feral cats. This observance resonates with me because nearly all of the cats who shared my life were on their own before living with me. The joy and love that I derive from these animals’ companionship is worth the responsibility of caring for them for their entire lives.

While I was shelving books on Saturday at the
Middletown Library, director Gehlen Palmer gave me a printout from the Marin Independent Journal. Written by Janet Williams with Marin Friends of Ferals, it highlighted the difference that caring people can make by trapping feral cats and then having them spayed and neutered.

“Sometimes it may seem we’re barely making headway, but every altered cat means dozens less living on the streets,” Williams said.

In Lake County, there are low-cost programs to help low-income families with the cost of spaying or neutering an animal. For more information, contact the SPCA of Clear Lake, located at 8025 Highway 29 near Kit’s Corner between Kelseyville and Lower Lake, 279-1400; and the Animal Coalition of Lake County, accessible by asking for Rita at From Me 2 You on Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake, 995-0552.

Lake County Animal Care and Control promotes a barn cat program for feral animals who could not otherwise be adopted. These cats can work controlling rats and mice as a natural alternative to the use of poisonous chemicals — surely a healthier alternative for felines and humans alike.

According to the website for Animal Care and Control, there is a $60 fee to adopt a barn cat. The fee covers the spay or neuter surgery as well as the annual and rabies vaccine.

Animal Care and Control also has adoptable companion animals in need of a permanent home. The Adopt-a-Pet feature that is published on Saturdays in the Lake County Record-Bee highlights some of these animals. Many more can be viewed online or — better yet — met in person during shelter hours, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Lake County Animal Care and Control is located at 4949 Helbush north of Lakeport. For more information about adopting an animal, call 263-0278 or send an email to cassiet@co.lake.ca.us.

Even those residents who do not feel prepared to give a home to an animal can help finance low-cost spay and neuter surgeries.

The Animal Coalition will host its annual Halloween costume dinner and dance, 5 to 10:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Moose Lodge, located at 15900 East Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks. The cost of tickets is $20 in advance and $25 at the door if available.

The event will include a costume contest, raffle, silent auction, dinner and live music by Twice as Good.

Tickets can be purchased at From Me 2 U, 995-0552; and Marie’s Lakeshore Feed & Grain, 994-5398. Both stores are located on Lakeshore Drive in Clearlake.

Tickets to the event are also available at the Moose Lodge in Clearlake Oaks.

For more information about animal care issues and to view animals available for adoption, visit www.co.lake.ca.us/Government/Directory/Animal_Care_And_Control.htm.

Published Oct. 18, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Thursday, October 13, 2011

‘Defend the freedom to read -- It’s everybody’s job’

The American Library Association is promoting the importance of reporting challenges with artwork available for download in a variety of formats: “Defend the freedom to read -- It’s everybody’s job.”
“Since 1990, the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom has maintained a confidential database on challenged materials. ALA collects information from two sources: newspapers and reports submitted by individuals. All challenges are compiled into a database. Reports of challenges culled from newspapers across the country are compiled in the bimonthly Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom; those reports are then compiled in the Banned Books Week Resource Guide. Challenges reported to the ALA by individuals are kept confidential. In these cases, ALA will release only the title of the book being challenged, the state and the type of institution (school, public library). The name of the institution and its town will not be disclosed. A list of most frequently challenge books is compiled from these challenges for each annual Banned Books Week.”
To report a challenge, the ALA provides an online Challenge Database Form. People can also print the Challenge Database Form, complete it, and fax it to  the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at  312-280-4227.

For assistance with actual and possible challenges to library materials, services, and programs, the ALA invites libraries to contact Angela Maycock, OIF assistant director, by telephone at 800-545-2433, ext. 4221; fax at 312-280-4227, by email at amaycock@ala.org, or at the Office for Intellectual Freedom, 800-545-2433, ext. 4223.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

October is sweater weather

“Pity about the scarf — Madame Nostradamus made it for me — a witty little knitter. Never get another one like it.”
— The fourth Doctor, “Ark in Space”
What better way to spend an overcast autumn Saturday than to put on a comfortable sweater, drape a thick wool blanket over my legs and sit outside reading in the fresh air with the cat stretched out at my feet.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

‘Annotated Legends’ by Weis and Hickman

The Annotated Legends by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (Wizards of the Coast, 2003), a trilogy of fantasy stories in one volume, offers an intriguing take on the hero’s journey. The main character is an alcoholic because, once home from his earlier adventures (referred to in the authors’ marginalia), no one needed him to perform heroic deeds anymore. As the story opens, his wife has kicked him out, saying he needs to find himself. He now embarks on a quest that will pit him against his twin brother. This book combines three novels: Time of the Twins, War of the Twins and Test of the Twins, which were originally published separately.

Originally posted to the Facebook page of the Lake County Library

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

“All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome” at Lake County Library

Cover image: All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome

In my column a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about placing an interlibrary loan request for “All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome” by Kathy Hoopmann. At the time, the book was unavailable in the Lake County Library and its cooperative partnering libraries.

A person named Geoffrey brought a copy of the book to the newspaper office, with instructions that it be donated to the local library. I entrusted it to our library Director Susan Clayton and as of Saturday, I located it in the online catalog. The book will be shelved under 618.92 among juvenile non-fiction in the Lakeport Library.

As of my viewing, the book had already been checked out and had one hold placed against it. Thank you Geoffrey, I think this book will be a wonderful addition to our library.

Published Sept. 27, 2012 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Read a banned book this week

Banned Books Week began Saturday and is being observed through this coming Saturday. As a lifetime reader and more recently as a library volunteer, I welcome this occasion every year to think about the effects of censorship.

My church library had some books mysteriously vanish but the books were later replaced thanks to a generous donation by United Christian Parish.


The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) records book challenges that are reported to it. From these, it compiles its annual list of most-frequently challenged books.


For 2010, the most-frequently challenged books are:

  1. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson;
  2. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie; 
  3. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley;
  4. “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins;
  5. “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins;
  6. “Lush” by Natasha Friend;
  7. “What My Mother Doesn't Know” by Sonya Sones;
  8. “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich;
  9. “Revolutionary Voices,” edited by Amy Sonnie; and 
  10. “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer.
The OIF has recorded more than 10,000 book challenges since 1990, according to a sample “Letter to the Editor” posted on its website. The OIF estimates that less than one-quarter of challenges are reported and recorded.

People who challenge books may think they have helpful intentions, but the removal of books is an overtly aggressive act. To quote again from the sample opinion column, “Censorship denies our freedom as individuals to choose and think for ourselves.”


In the OIF’s own words, “Intellectual freedom — the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular — provides the foundation for Banned Books Week (BBW).  BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.


“The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings,” according to the OIF. “Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.”


In observance of Banned Books Week, consider reading a book that has been the subject of attempted challenges. There are a number of really good books, both classic and contemporary, on the OIF’s compiled lists.


Look for displays of banned books at a public library. Readers can also find out more online at www.ala.org/bbooks or www.facebook.com/bannedbooksweek.


Published Sept. 27, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Middletown library breaks ground

The Middletown library groundbreaking on Wednesday was very welcome news to this library volunteer.
Each week that I shelve books presents me with an interesting challenge to fit the library’s inventory into its finite space.

Middletown has outgrown its community library. The library collection has expanded and evolved to keep pace with the information needs of the members of its community.

Our library shares resources between branches among a three-county system of Mendocino, Sonoma and Lake. Several times a day staff at the various libraries are pulling hold requests.

But as steadily as books leave the Middletown library to fulfill patrons’ needs, others as steadily return.
I never know from week-to-week whether the number of books that have left the library exceed the number that have come back. But I think it contributes to the ease with which I can find — or not find — space to fit books on the shelves.

Sometimes the shelves are packed to capacity so I set the returns into a pile as neatly as I can so that they will be ready for shelving when space becomes available.

Last week while I shelved, I looked with Gehlen Palmer, the Middletown library director, out the window at the open field across Highway 29 from the library. For as long as he’d worked there, Palmer said, he believed that space would be the perfect place for a Middletown library.

On Wednesday, Lake County took its first tangible steps toward making that dream a reality. Now, it seems as though each day when I ride past the site on the bus, there is a growing collection of large machinery parked on that open field.

These are pretty exciting developments!

The new Middletown Senior Center and Library complex will be located at 21256 Washington St. between Douglas and Callayomi streets in Middletown. According to the County of Lake, the new dual-use facility will comprise 12,377 square feet of space that includes a 4,400-square-foot senior center, a 5,450-square-foot public library and a 2,527-square-foot common area. The complex will provide a new home for the Middletown library and the existing senior center operated by Middletown Seniors, Inc.

To give readers an idea of how much more space will be available to these two entities, the existing Middletown library is 1,790 square feet and the existing senior center is 2,100 square feet.

I would like to acknowledge the history of the Chauncey W. Gibson Library, as it was compiled by Jan Cook. The Middletown branch library was originally dedicated in May 1929. It was named to honor an Oakland resident who first donated a large number of books and then funded construction of a permanent building for Middletown’s first library.

According to Cook’s history, Gibson made his offer on the condition that Middletown’s citizens would provide the land. The complete history was published in Fall 2009 issue of Booknotes, a newsletter for the Friends of the Lake County Library.

The Gibson library is a beautiful building that has served Middletown well. It justly honors a man whose generosity enhanced the lives of Middletown residents. There is no shame to this building that it has become too small to meet the community’s growing information needs.

I really look forward to shelving returned books in our new Middletown library. What a relief it will be to know that there is room on its shelves for our library collection to expand.

Published Sept. 20, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Monday, September 19, 2011

‘The Son of Neptune’

Book cover: "The Son of Neptune" by Rick Riordan
The Son of Neptune is the second book in Rick Riordan’s series Heroes of Olympus. If you read the original series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, or saw the film “The Lightning Thief,” you were introduced to the Greek gods and their demigod offspring.

This new series introduces readers to the gods in their Roman aspects. The members of Camp Halfblood learn that there is another group of demigods, children of the Roman gods, who have historically been the enemies/rivals of the children of Greek gods. For that reason each camp has been kept ignorant of the existence of the other.

Originally posted on Facebook

Thursday, September 15, 2011

EqUUal Access: Accessibility guidelines

The Accessibility Banner consists of a dancing chalice surrounded by six accessibility symbols: a wheelchair, signing hands, a brain, an ear, a Braille symbol and a person walking with a cane. The dancing figure was chosen because it symbolizes how we could all 'dance' if there were full accessibility for all. The surrounding double circles symbolize Unitarianism and Universalism. The heading words 'Accessible and Welcoming to All' are in an italic font to suggest or hint at the dancing theme.
EqUUal Access has prepared Accessibility Guidelines for Unitarian Universalist Congregations, which were approved Sept. 7 by the EqUUal Access Board. EqUUal Access promotes equality and access for Unitarian Universalists with disabilities.

I served on the policy committee that generated this document. Full inclusion and participation is of personal significance to me and the EqUUal Access policy committee offered a chance to act on this conviction.

From Rev. Barbara F. Meyers, writing at the EqUUal Access blog: “Policy Committee member Cynthia Parkhill wrote the section on Advocacy, and also pointed out that the needs of people using a printed copy of the document were different from those using an on-line copy. This resulted in having two different versions, one for print and one for online use.”

The purpose of the guidelines, according to EqUUal Access, is to address the “inclusion of all people (whatever their ability may be) in activities and physical accessibility to facilities of the Unitarian Universalist Association and its member congregations.

“It is the goal of this document that our religious institutions, the UUA and every Unitarian Universalist congregation become not only fully accessible under the law, but take the next step to truly welcome people with disabilities, and integrate people with disabilities into every facet of UU religious life.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

‘Little Free Libraries Are Coming to Town’

"Little Free Library," birdhouse structure filled with books
Source: Little Free Library

As reported by Michael Kelley in Library Journal and summarized on Utne.com, Rick Brooks and Todd Bol are on a mission to top Andrew Carnegie’s 2,509 libraries.
“The diminutive, birdhouse-like libraries, which Brooks and Bol began installing in Hudson and Madison, Wisconsin, in 2009, are typically made of wood and Plexiglas and are designed to hold about 20 books for community members to borrow and enjoy. Offerings include anything from Russian novels and gardening guides to French cookbooks and Dr. Seuss.” 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Interlibrary loan expands resources

As a patron of Lake County Library, I have the combined catalogs of Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma counties available to me. Lake County is additionally part of the North Bay Cooperative Library System, which allows me access to the holdings of Napa, Solano and Marin county libraries. Public and community college libraries alike are represented by the cooperative.

I access the "SuperSearch" telnet connection via a link accessible from the Lake County Library’s online public access catalog.

With so many libraries’ holdings available to me, it is not often that a book is unavailable either through the domestic catalog or through the North Bay cooperative.

The delightful picture book, "All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome," by Kathy Hoopmann, is one such book not readily available.
To obtain the book through Interlibrary Loan (ILL), I began by looking it up via Worldcat.org. It allowed me to sort my results by distance from my location and I thought this information might be useful to staff at the Lake County Library when placing my ILL.

As it turned out, however, Jan Cook, the library technician who handles ILL, had to look it up for herself as part of the process of placing an ILL. I paid a visit on Aug. 19 to request my ILL.

Cook used an Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) interface available to the Lake County Library. It accesses the same online database as Worldcat.org but is designed for use by library staff. As Cook explained to me, "It’s like looking through two different windows to see the same thing."

The OCLC results displayed which libraries had the book and whether its status permitted borrowing. Cook selected four or five libraries as potential suppliers for my book.

I asked what would happen if all of the libraries attempted to supply the request but Cook said only one library would be given the request at a time. OCLC would wait a few days and if that library didn’t respond, that request would expire and OCLC would send a request to the next library in the queue.

I was able to designate which branch of the library to arrange pick-up at, same as I would when placing holds through our catalog or through "SuperSearch."

I place "SuperSearch" holds regularly online, when an item is not in our domestic catalog. Because I’ve found so much available through the domestic catalog and through the North Bay cooperative, I’ve not pursued ILL requests with libraries outside the area.

My one prior experience was to request newspapers on microfilm from a library in Madison, Wis. The request was placed through an in-person visit to the Lake County Library. Once the microfilmed newspapers arrived, I used the microfilm reader on-site.
I think that ILL is a valuable resource, whether among member libraries of a shared catalog system or cooperative or between libraries in a larger geographic area. The books usually take longer to arrive when ordered via ILL, but I think the wait is worth it.

Even though our combined library catalog and our cooperative membership gives me access to so many materials, it is nice to know that ILL can make so many more resources available.

Published Sept. 13, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee. A version of this was compiled for Cuesta College LIBT 105, Library/Information Center Collections.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

‘Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected’

Logo: Libraries and Autism: We're Connected
Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected
Scotch Plains Public Library and the Fanwood Memorial Library, with their partners, created “Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected” in 2008. It offers a video and online resources with recommendations for best practices. I particularly like the statement about “using individuals on the spectrum and with other developmental disabilities as staff and volunteers in the library.”

Friday, August 19, 2011

What if Hollywood remade ‘Desk Set’?

Photo still from Desk Set
An information overload.
Movieclassics.wordpress.com

One of the texts in my online studies for Library and Information Technology reprints a photo still from “Desk Set,” a 1957 movie starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. In it, Hepburn is the director of a corporate research library.

Tracy’s character has been brought in to install a super computer that can supposedly look up any fact quicker than Hepburn’s staff of reference librarians. The movie ends with victory for the librarians when the computer blows a fuse.

I was reminded of that film this week during my reading on reference services for one of my Cuesta College courses. “Libraries in the Information Age” by Denise K. Fourie and David R. Dowell state that reference librarians and technicians must increasingly help patrons evaluate information for credibility.

People are turning more and more to the Internet for information, instead of to sources that traditionally have been vetted for accuracy. Where better to turn than to a library professional for aid in navigating information online?

“Many industry leaders see this as the librarians most significant role in the future” (Fourie 180).

Thinking about “Desk Set,” I began to wonder what if “Desk Set” were remade today? Perhaps instead of being threatened with replacement by a physical computer, Hepburn and her librarians were faced by corporation officers increasingly turning to the Internet as their source of information.

The Internet is far different from the databases available through library subscription. In the case of the EBSCOHost legal database  available to Lake County residents through our public and law libraries, each item in the database has been curated by a professional.

In today’s remake, perhaps Tracy’s modern counterpart has been hired to demonstrate a meta-search engine that trolls vast swaths of the Internet at once. To the corporate heads’ thinking, who needs the staff librarians when everything can be looked up online?

I believe that in this updated scenario, librarians would continue to be viable. Perhaps the future of the corporation could hinge upon a decision to be made based on information gleaned from the Internet. Hepburn’s librarian could dramatically expose the piece of information as a hoax.

Checking for attribution of an online article with an author’s name, weighing that author’s name against documented expertise, verifying whether an article has been subject to professional editing, identifying who -- if anyone -- has financed publication of the article and verifying whether the article cites primary or secondary sources -- perhaps these are not the materials for an explosive Hollywood ending, but evaluating information for criterion that my textbook reading groups under credibility, bias, currency and appropriateness (Fourie 181) will increasingly need to be considered in a medium to which anyone can publish.

As the text states, “The same tool that allows brilliant insight to be communicated worldwide at near the speed of light allows any fool to broadcast lesser thoughts just as efficiently.”

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Open-work ‘Om’ T-shirt

‘Pin-Up,’ #11, Generation T
Project #11, “Pin-Up,” from Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt by Megan Nicolay (Workman Publishing, 2006), originally featured safety pins holding the shirt together at the shoulders and sleeves. I substituted strips of open-work trim.

The shirt I used had been tie-dyed and batiked in shades of blue and burgundy with a white Om symbol on the front. My next step, after this photo was taken, was to cut the shirt at the bottom edge of the scalloping pattern and insert another panel of the open-work trim.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Nothing like life with an adolescent cat

Starfire
Our home is blessed to be occupied by a new cat! Starfire, a young cat, needed a home and filled a void caused by the death of our cat Elizabeth.

I was touched by readers’ sympathetic cards and emails responding to the death of Elizabeth, some sharing memories of their own beloved 12- and 13-year-old cats who had crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

Elizabeth’s end was as peaceful as we could arrange, aided by the Middletown Animal Hospital. We took comfort in the knowledge that we had given Elizabeth a long and happy life in our care.

Less peaceful was the feeling of coming home each day to a cat-less house.  I was used to being greeted by a cat when I arrived home from the bus stop each day and it was depressing to walk home to an empty house.

As it blessedly turned out, Jonathan and I did not remain cat-less for long.

Starfire was a cat whose former owner could no longer take care of her. Since then, she had been fending for herself but it was not an easy life.

We agreed that we could and should give Starfire a home and people who were familiar with Starfire’s situation gave us encouragement.

For the first night, Starfire hid under our bed and under dressers. She retains the habit of sleeping beneath the bed, which I think is a carryover to when she felt she needed to conceal herself by day. I’ve noticed this past week when I come home, she is stretched out on the bed, which I interpret as Starfire feeling safer and more at-ease in her surroundings.

Starfire is black with white stars on her chest and belly, plus she is so full of life and energy that our name for her seems a good fit.

We have to adjust all over again to living with an adolescent cat. We’d grown accustomed during the years to our mature cat’s decreased energy.

One consistent factor is that my cat likes to “help” whenever I embark on crafts: whether it was Elizabeth plopping down on pattern pieces assembled for a sewing project or whether it is Starfire snagging a strip of cloth that I’ve cut to serve as a drawstring for a refashioned T-shirt’s halter-top neck.

Her zeal to attack drawstrings knows no bounds; although curiously she spares the laniard I use to hang my Lake Transit rider’s pass in a hand-made ID holder.

“Generation T” by Megan Nicolay is my present obsession. The book, which I checked out from the Middletown Library, contains 108 ideas for transforming T-shirts. My first project to refashion T-shirts was to snip off several shirts’ necks and sleeve cuffs and then knot them into a rope toy for Starfire.


A cat’s rope toy wasn’t actually in the book; it just seemed a good use for the remnants.

Starfire is one of the most intelligent cats we have ever met. She seems to understand the parallels between her litter box and the toilet. I think it only a matter of time before she figures how to use the toilet herself.

Finally, we are happy to see Starfire making friends with the apartment complex’s resident cats. It will be nice to know she has friends to interact with and upon whom she can rely against a neighborhood bullying cat.

Life with an adolescent cat is constantly entertaining. There is really nothing like it.

Published Aug. 9, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cat-tested, cat-approved halter top

T-Bird, #47, Generation T
It was only fitting to photograph Starfire for Project #47, “T-Bird,” from Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt by Megan Nicolay (Workman Publishing, 2006). Starfire was extremely interested in the strip I cut to serve as the drawstring for the halter top. She darted out from under the bed to pounce on it.

Originally posted to Facebook

Generation T: Fabulous find at the library

‘It’s a Cinch,’ Project #8, Generation T

I checked out a really neat book from the Middletown Library: Generation T, 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt by Megan Nicolay (Workman Publishing, 2006). It demonstrates how to reconstruct T-shirts into various other things.

For Project #8, “It’s a Cinch,” I cut open the front of my “V-Day” T-shirt just off center, stitched it back together with an approximately one-inch casing on each side. I threaded a drawstring up one side and down the other.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Take compassion to the stars and beyond

The appearance of each new photo on Facebook of the “Jayne Hat of the Week” is a cue for viewers to send a description of their starship to the proprietor of “Being a Geek.”

“Jayne” is a character on the science-fiction series “Firefly.” His mother made him a red, yellow and orange hat with earflaps and people submit photos depicting themselves wearing hats modeled after his.

While the purpose of the contest was to further viewers’ awareness of “Firefly,” I was intrigued by the contest’s emphasis upon the name of the ship, including the reason for its selection and its history.

I took as inspiration the Constitution-class starship of “Star Trek: The Original Series,” of which the most well-known is N.C.C. 1701, the U.S.S. Enterprise herself — but more significant than the class of ship or my choice of science-fiction universe, were the values that I hope to see entrenched in our future society.

The N.C.C. 1707, the U.S.S. Armstrong, is named for Karen Armstrong, progenitor in the early 21st Century of the Charter for Compassion.

Armstrong, a religious scholar, is the author of “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2011).

In “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life,” Armstrong relates how she asked the nonprofit group Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) to help her create a Charter for Compassion that would be written by leading thinkers from a variety of faiths.

TED presents a $100,000 award to people to help them make a better world. The Charter for Compassion was the result of Armstrong receiving this award:

“Thousands of people from all over the world contributed to a draft charter on a multilingual website in Hebrew, Arabic, Urdu, Spanish, and English; their comments were presented to the Council of Conscience, a group of notable individuals from six faith traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism) who met in Switzerland in February 2009 to compose the final version.”

The charter was officially launched Nov. 12, 2009.

A Lake County Charter for Compassion was adopted on March 22 by the Lake County Board of Supervisors. It echos the language in the original charter: that “The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves.”

In creating my starship, I envisioned a future that would view this as a pivotal moment in history when Humanity finally put an end to poverty and war and took compassion to the stars and beyond.

Armstrong’s book presents  a 12-step program for cultivating and expanding compassion. Its emphasis upon the Golden Rule makes it a valuable resource for nearly every religious faith and even for people who cultivate compassion for a strictly secular benefit of treating other people as they wish to be treated themselves.

“Twelve Steps to A Compassionate Life” is available in print and in audio format through the Lake County Library, which includes a copy that is shelved at the Redbud Library. Look for the book under 177.7 on the non-fiction shelves or place a request through the library catalog, accessible online or at any branch of the Lake, Mendocino or Sonoma County libraries.

For more information about the international charter, visit http://charterforcompassion.org/site/. For more information about the Lake County charter, visit http://lakecountycompassion.blogspot.com/.

Published Aug. 2, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Welcome home, Starfire


A lovely little cat needed a home who’d been staying on Harbin property, fending for herself after her owner suffered a severe stroke. Jonathan brought home the cat, whom we call Starfire, on Friday, July 15.

Starfire’s name evokes her color, which is nearly all black. She has white “stars” on her chest and belly. On her right hind foot, Starfire has a broken or deformed toe.

We missed Elizabeth and felt lonely at home without having a cat. Starfire needed a home and giving her a home has made a wonderful difference for us. She is such a loving cat!

My column this week is about our sweet Elizabeth and the lessons we feel that she learned — chiefly caring for other cats. Elizabeth was such an awesome kitty; I’m so glad she was in my life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Goodbye to a beloved cat

Elizabeth

My husband and I said good-bye this week to our cat of many years, Miss Elizabeth. She died peacefully on Tuesday.

Elizabeth had advanced liver cancer and we couldn’t bear to prolong her suffering so we arranged for her to be euthanized at the Middletown Animal Hospital. Jonathan and I were with her when she died.

Thirteen years ago, Jonathan brought her home to me as a 30th birthday present. As he came in the door, I was confronted by a tiny, bat-eared creature being handed to me: “Here. Happy birthday,” Jonathan said.

Elizabeth was so funny-looking; she really did resemble a bat. Each ear was as big as her entire face.

She spent the first few hours at home hiding behind our toilet. Jonathan would drag her out from behind the toilet so that she’d have to interact.

Piper at the Gates of Dawn, our mature male cat, was Elizabeth’s early favorite. She relentlessly followed him everywhere until he took to hiding in our closet.

Even then, Elizabeth wasn’t always ready to accept a hint. On one occasion she charged into the closet; we heard a muffled thump and I imagined Piper issuing an admonitory slap to send Elizabeth on her way. Sure enough, here came Elizabeth trotting back out again.

Piper emerged from the closet again once Elizabeth was large enough for him to safely smack around. The relationship between the two cats now resembled a Jedi Knight and his Padawan. This wonderfully parental male cat began trying to teach Elizabeth things he felt that a cat should know: fighting moves and hunting techniques.

Elizabeth enjoyed playing with Piper, but never grasped the concept of hunting. To her, mice were fun playthings that lost their appeal once dead.

When Piper died, Elizabeth was an only cat for many years. She wasn’t a very good Jedi Knight; she had an intense dislike for kittens. No Padawan for her!

I relied on Elizabeth for emotional support and solidarity. Reading a delightful picture book by Kathy Hoopmann, “All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome,” corroborated the parallels I observed between Elizabeth’s behavior and my tendencies: my cat and I both liked our routines; we preferred peace and quiet and we tended to react to disruptions in a similar way.

Long before I’d heard of Asperger syndrome, I called Elizabeth my “peace barometer” because her behavior so often helped me gauge what I felt myself.

Jonathan and I are proud that during the later years of her life, Elizabeth actually made several friends. Circumstances required her to live in close proximity to a series of other cats. Some of them were even kittens!

It was fascinating to watch the cats establish their proximity thresholds. Once established, the encroaching cat would come as close as possible to that barrier without crossing it.

I noticed that during subsequent encounters, the proximity threshold would shrink. Grudging tolerance became respect and even in time became friendship.

We believe that Elizabeth, during her life, learned some important lessons and that chief among them was genuine caring toward other cats. When Elizabeth departed this life, she’d achieved a life of accomplishment that will hopefully travel with her to whatever form her soul takes next. I think that’s a fitting legacy for any soul to have accomplished.

Published July 19, 2011 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Saturday, July 16, 2011

‘Hattitude’: Hand-made hat out of Guatemalan cotton

Brimmed hat of Guatemalan cotton in shades of navy, white and dark burgundy. In the front of the hat, the brim is folded up to display a lining of burgundy flannel

The best hats are the ones I make myself. Here is a hat of Guatemalan cotton in shades of navy, white and dark burgundy, paired with a lining of burgundy flannel.

Originally posted to “Hattitude” photo album on Facebook

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Who gets to be a geek?

A bitter debate is raging online whether Miss USA Alyssa Campanella is a genuine “geek” or whether she is too pretty, too popular or too whatever to qualify as a genuine fan.