Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Doing Good as a Librarian

I mentioned Ask A Librarian (AAL) before: an online chat service libraries provide for the public and students to ask questions and request research.  At the university/college level it's for students stuck off-campus to get help finding online research or figure out what they need for assignments.  At the public library level: we're for home-schooled or virtual school students and for middle/high school students; or for adults needing help with placing holds, figuring out ereaders, and whether or not their library card numbers are still valid.

It's a state-wide program: a lot of the county and city libraries provide staff to give an hour or two a day at least once a week.  We get about four questions an hour, usually from the big systems like Jacksonville, Broward, Tampa/Hillsborough, Miami/Dade, Orange County (Orlando), sometimes Lee and Monroe.  The quirky ones are the ones out-of-state: I had one from Shasta College... one from Bolton (UK!)... anyway I digress.

Every month, the organization overseeing AAL gives out a couple of staff awards.  There's one for the librarian who provides extra effort to make sure most of the hours are covered as best as possible, called the Superstar award.

I was named for September's Superstar:
There's a plaque for it!

From Jessica at TBLC:
Paul is the Reference and Computer Librarian at the Bartow Public Library which is part of the Polk County Library Cooperative. He was been at Bartow since February 2013 and has been an outstanding team member of Ask A Librarian since his arrival. He has also been nominated for several exemplary reference awards.
Paul volunteers to cover shifts needing last-minute help on the Collaborative Desk. Paul's eagerness to help librarians and staff from around the state shows true dedication to the collaborative program. His virtual reference knowledge reaches customers in a true time of need.
Paul is a crucial member of the Ask A Librarian program. Please help me congratulate this month’s SuperStar winner, Paul Wartenberg from Bartow Public Library.

I'm feeling good right now.

Friday, August 29, 2014

So I Might Be Selling Stories After All...?

Just got this in the email:
Huh.  I earned about 10.00 for my NOOK Book sales.

The only thing I got plugged into NookPress is my short story "Welcome to Florida".  Selling that at about .99 a download.  So uh... hmm... I got over 10 people to actually buy/read that short story.

I need to login in and double-check the sales info.  Make sure there's not an accounting issue.

And yes, I do have to report this 10 bucks to the IRS.

You do not f-ck with the IRS.  Even the Joker does not f-ck with the IRS.
P.S. I may have another short story getting anthologized.  More later.

UPDATE: Actually, the NookPress service doesn't tally up any sales returns until a minimum of $10 is there.  And it's not the full .99 cents from the sale of each copy, so I've actually sold more than just ten... most of the sales were back in 2012 by the looks of the sales chart, just had two sales this year in June, ergo this financial quarter being the line-crossing.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Personal Note: Back on Weight Watchers

I had fallen off the wagon, as it were, back when I was unemployed and couldn't afford the weekly/monthly fees.  As a result - combined with other matters - my weight got back up to where it was the LAST time my doctor told me I was morbidly obese (310-ish).  So...

Started three weeks ago at 309 lbs.  Last week's weigh-in I was down 3 lbs.  I need to reach 15 lbs loss in about ten weeks, and then get it down to 30 lbs (the "ten percent" goal) within twenty weeks.  So right now I'm aiming for 294 lbs and then 279 lbs after that.

Just gotta cut back on the pizza.  And the chocolate.  And the sodas (seriously, that's a major part right there).  And the chocolate.  And the mac and cheese...

And while there's a big emphasis on eating more greens (and just generally eating less of the stuff that just makes you fat), there's a smarter emphasis on portion control than on cutting back on the "bad" stuff altogether (that creates denial, then total rejection of the dieting effort) combined with more activity (burn baby burn, Calories Inferno!).  Walk more, eat less...

So don't be surprised if you see me biking a lot more often.  Do be terrified, though: WHERE'S THE BRAKES ON THESE THINGS! AIIIEEEEEE...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I Survived Tampa Bay Comic Con 2014: The Prelude (with Update)

I return to you with tidings of great geekery which shall be to all people.

Namely, that Tampa's Comic Con has gotten a little bit bigger and lot more fun.

Also, per my previous post about the fan squee for Batgirl's new outfit, I found one cosplayer yesterday who already (within two weeks!) made an excellent version of it!
SNAP-ON CAPE!  squeeeee
That said, my full review is unfortunately going to be on my other blog - I have made too many other comic-con postings over there, so gotta go with where I've got the traffic going - so I will provide a link to that as soon as I've finished writing it.

P.S. gonna go see Guardians of the Galaxy this morning as well.  There's been too much good buzz about it to hold off longer.

UPDATE: the link to the Comic-Con review is up!  Also, I saw Guardians this afternoon.  Good movie, has some obvious jumps in narrative that looks like a lot of deleted stuff waiting for DVD/Blu-Ray, funny as all out which is what we need in summer action movies more often...  But Dear God... they wanna bring back (SPOILER ALERT!  SPOILER ALERT!)?!  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO gasp wheeze OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO cough cough wheeze gag insert additional choking noises here

...somewhere in this galaxy, George Lucas is laughing at his revenge on us all...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why Artists Went Fan Squee Over Batgirl's New Outfit

Just as I'm getting ready to attend next Saturday's Tampa Bay Comic-con, there's been a bit of interest in the comics industry about a revamped look for one of the big names in the DC Universe.  Batgirl (technically the second one, Barbara "Babs" Gordon) is getting a new look:

Edit: the artist is Babs Tarr (Babs is drawing Babs!).  She's a big deal.  Check her out.

The response has been epic.  Within a day (I am not kidding), fan art from professional and independent graphic artists flooded the Intertubes.

Part of it is due to the outfit being so damn sensible: instead of it being a glorified swimsuit, or spandex form-fitting distraction, the new outfit is practical.  Leather jacket and armor.  Regular boots (although the laces may be a weak spot!).  The utility belt (no Bat goes without one) uses an additional leg strap to keep it and the main pouch secure.  The cowl doesn't get trapped over the ears.  Above all: THE CAPE.

Fans are divided over the idea of a cape.  Some supers can't be one without it (Superman in particular).  But in terms of practicality...  The movie Incredibles spells it out:

Batgirl is going to employ a simple, sensible alternative: snap-on, snap-off cape (via Sam Logan).

Fans are ga-ga for the snap-on.  My favorite response so far has been from Mike Maihack.  He's done a handful of Batgirl-Supergirl (in canon and fanon Babs and Kara are BFFs) one-sheets before, and with the new uniform he couldn't resist:

in Maihack's tellings, Kara's a bit of a fashionista, much to Babs' dismay...
See Kara popping that snap-on?  Yup.  Fans dig the snap-on.

As for the other reason fans are going ga-ga...

Part of the response is due to the background of Barbara Gordon herself.  Ever since her inception in the mid-1960s (the Silver Age), Barbara's place among the fandom has been usually well-received.  When the Killing Joke happened - the infamous issue where the Joker paralyzed her by shooting through her spine - the horrified response was universal (even the writer Alan Moore - himself a master Deconstructor, he dissed the capes too - regretted the move).  Bat-fans within the industry quickly worked to make Barbara a new heroine - Oracle - while the fans working via fanart and fanfic came up with stories of her regaining the use of her legs.  It took yet another multiverse Crisis (DC unfortunately has gotten into the sad habit of rebooting itself every 3-4 years now /headdesk) to return to an earlier reboot making her college-age again and back to mobility.

The fan-love for Barbara comes from her origin.  The reason she became Batgirl was because she was a fangirl in costume (from the Hero Sandwich blog):
Artist Carmine Infantino

One things the comics creators try to do is develop a character/hero the potential audience can relate to.  When it became clear that kids were superhero books' biggest readers, the publishers created "sidekick" pre-teens (Speedy, Robin, the Newsboy Legion) to act as in-story surrogates.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes you'd get a Scrappy.

In Barbara's case, she was relatively unique.  Most sidekicks - and heroes that mentored them - came from damaged backgrounds, suffering some terrible injustice or fleeing a deadly fate that would become a motivating factor in their decision to dress up and fight crime.

Barbara was on her way to a costume ball, dressed up as her favorite superhero, when she has to stop Killer Moth - yes, villains from the 1950s and 1960s were a bit lame - from kidnapping Bruce Wayne.

She's pretty much an ascended cosplayer.

Hence the fan-love.

I wonder how many costumers at the Tampa comic-con are gonna have snap-on capes... (don't look at me. I'm gonna try to fit into the Jedi outfit mom sewed for me).

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In the Good News Bad News Categories: July 2014 Edition

1) Bad news: I couldn't keep up with Camp NaNo this month.  Just couldn't, too many distractions and just didn't plan ahead for it.  Good news: I am putting in to be a regional moderator for Polk County/Lakeland for the regular NaNo this November just to see if I can spread the 50k a month manifesto. Even better news: trying to get stuff written got me motivated enough to finish another story submission to Mystery & Horror LLC, so we'll see how that goes... :)

2) Bad news: found out I had a flat tire.  Equally bad news, nearly crushed a finger coping with the nightmare of getting the spare tire off and nearly losing the car on the driveway incline.  Good news: finger's just bruised and was able to get the tire fixed rather cheap and refilled with Nitrogen.

3) Bad news: still lonely.  Good news: ...well, I need to figure out social skills before I can fix this kind of bad news... sigh.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's Summer And That Means Camp. Camp NaNoWriMo


Apparently, people wanted to do the whole novel-in-a-month thing during other months, so the makers of National Novel Writing Month created Camp NaNo.

So... I'm signing up for the July one to see if I can get re-focused on the writings I've done for the regular NaNos.  It seems that once the month is over, I lose interest or get distracted and all, which isn't fair to my work(s) piling up.

And I think Camp NaNo tries to do the support/motivational stuff via online chats and sharing.

So... does anyone else do Camp NaNo?  Any suggestions?