s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: February 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

B is for the British Empire

I once dreamt that I was sitting in the Marriott Center with my aunt, when two officers from the BYU police department approached us.

“We arrest you in the name of Her Majesty!”

“Deuces!” I exclaimed, “I always suspected that the University police were loyal to the Crown!”

“Hail Britannia!” they rejoined.

The end.

(I don’t know what part of my subconscious writes the dialogue for my dreams, but “I always suspected that the University police were loyal to the Crown!” is one of my favorite lines, ever.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

V is for Vanilla Ice Cream

The worst vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had was homemade soft serve vanilla ice cream at my grandma’s house. We were having some sort of family party, and everyone had brought or made homemade ice cream to share. Someone had served me a bowl of the awful vanilla ice cream, which was made all the more unexpectedly awful because I normally really like homemade ice cream. This bowl, however, had some sort of unexpected tangy aftertaste, which didn’t taste like proper vanilla at all.

After several bites, I came across a mysterious lumpy glop in the bowl of ice cream. It was . . . a strawberry. In fact, the ice cream was strawberry flavored but, being homemade, hadn’t been dyed pink with food coloring. I happily finished the bowl of some of the best strawberry ice cream I’ve ever had.

I guess you can draw your own moral from this: The importance of paradigm shifts, or Be your own kind of beautiful, or Don’t judge, or whatever. I just think it’s a funny story.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Monster Sweater

The Monster Sweater is better proportioned for a gorilla than a human, having sleeves which are much too long for its body.

However, no gorilla is likely to be able to wear it since it has a neckhole that is only 5 cm across. (10 cm is really the smallest sized opening you should ever try to fit a human head through, and even then only on rare occasions.)

The Monster Sweater is three colors, since I ran out of yarn on one of the sleeves and again on the collar. (But at least the sleeves are the same length, now. Even Monster Sweaters need limits.)

The Monster Sweater's picked up collar stitches are much too visible, but that's probably in part because the collar is a different color from the main part of the sweater. (The collar also looked much worse the first three times I knit it – including one time inside out – so I think I'm sticking with it as is.)

The yarn I used for The Monster Sweater was fraying in a lot of places, so there are little yarn-y ends hanging out on one of the sleeves, especially. (It could fall apart at any minute, really.)

I went up one needle size to cast off for the waist ribbing. It's really not stretchy enough; I should probably have gone up another size. (Or learned a more stretchy cast off. Are there any others?)

The raglans are very neat looking, but the sleeves are kind of at a wonky angle. I'm assuming this is because of the too-small neckhole, and not an issue with underlying technique.

One of my yarn joins is on the outside of the sleeve, because I forgot that the inside of the sleeve would become the outside when I rolled the cuff back. (And no, I didn't spit graft the new yarn, either. I used a square knot.)

It is my first sweater and I am excessively proud.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cat. & Reference: Oops!

One of the hardest parts of my job is assigning Dewey call numbers to the books I catalog. Since LC is the preferred classification system for academic libraries, many of the records I come across have suggested LC numbers but not Dewey numbers. Some don’t even have that. At least I’ve always got subject headings to work with, because if a record doesn’t even have subject headings, I’m supposed to send the book over to original cataloging. (Assigning subject headings would apparently blow the minds of us mere copy catalogers.)

Even if the record does have a Dewey call number, I have to double check the number in the Dewey schedules. Sometimes the number is too long (we’re limited to 11 digits), so I have to figure out where to cut it off. Sometimes the number comes from an older edition of Dewey, and it’s been discontinued or a more specific number has since been established. We have local classification systems for some subjects, so we can’t use number suggested by other cataloging agencies for books on those topics. For biographies, we’ll use the suggested number if we don’t already have a number established; otherwise, we’d prefer to class all biographies of a specific person together, even if the focus of each is somewhat different. Sometimes the number is OK, but I just think that another one would be better. And sometimes the suggested number is just plain wrong.

I had a book the other day called “Insane passions : lesbianism and psychosis in literature and film,” with a primary subject heading of “Lesbianism in literature,” and a suggested Dewey class number 809.93526643. I opened up WebDewey, and started to go through the schedules.

80- ... Literature, rhetoric & criticism
809 ... History, description, critical appraisal of more than two literatures
809.9 ... Literature displaying specific features
809.93 ... Literature displaying other aspects [than the options listed in 809.91-2]
809.935 ... Literature emphasizing subjects

So far, so good. At this point, the schedules direct me to go back to the main classes to select the subject that this literature is supposed to emphasize.

[809.935]2-- ... [Literature emphasizing] Religion

Hmm. Odd. I’m not exactly clear on where “lesbianism” is normally to be found in the schedules, but this top level category surprises me. Is Sappho supposed to have started her own religion, perhaps? Going along, I find . . .

[809.935]26- ... [Literature emphasizing] Christian organization, social work & worship

Wait – was there some religious aspect to this book that I missed? A secondary subject heading that the cataloging agency has chosen to bring out? I check the record again, but no . . .

[809.935]266 ... [Literature emphasizing] Missions

this point, it’s clear that the number is just plain wrong, but I’m curious to know where this train wreck will lead me.

[809.935]266.4 ... [Literature emphasizing] Missions of protestant denominations of Continental origin and related bodies
[809.935]266.43 ... [Literature emphasizing] Missions of Hussite and Anabaptist churches

That’s right. The suggested number is for literature about Anabaptist and Hussite missionaries (also including Lollards and Wycliffites
, naturally).

Now, I grant you that there could be an overlap. I’m not really up on my Anabaptist missionaries, but there may be whole passels of them who are lesbians, and mine is to catalog, not to judge. However, the suggested class number for this book doesn’t really seem to “approximate the whole of the subject matter,” so to speak.

The weird thing about the number was that I couldn’t figure out where it had come from. Often it’s pretty easy to see a missed digit or a repeated digit or a ten-key error, but this seemed awfully far from the beaten path. I finally found the mysterious “3526643” string hidden in Table 3C where it was labeled “lesbians—arts.” A note at the top of the table informed the user that Table 3C was “Notation to Be Added Where Instructed in Table 3B, 700.4, 791.4, 808-809,” and when I went back to the 809 section of the schedules, I saw a note directing the user to that table. However, the note specified that only subjects beginning with “1” or “2” could be added to 809.9, not subjects beginning with “3” or any number thereafter. Do you see what happens when you don’t read the schedules closely? You end up with Lollards and Wycliffites in all sorts of unexpected places.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Fictional characters to whom I have been compared

Charlotte from Making Fiends (Hee hee!)
Florence from Chess
Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series
Kaylee from Firefly
Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons

Miss Marple from Agatha Christie's Miss Marple series

There’s a definite theme . . .

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A haiku about my health

A bad case of hives.
"Doctor, what is wrong with me?"
"No more eggs for you."