s Thoughts from the Physics Chick: September 2007

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Learning Swedish, part 6

My favorite Swedish cognates of the week:

växer - to grow (cognate with English wax)
ber / bad / bett - to ask (cognate with English bid / bad / bade)
pratar - to talk (cognate with English prattle)

Saturday, September 22, 2007


What do the cities of Arlington, VA; Newton Falls, OH; and Young America, MN have in common?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cat. & Reference: Overly literal subject analysis

245 00 $a Tulips & chimneys / $c e.e. cummings.
650 _0 $a Tulips
650 _0 $a Chimneys.

245 04 $a The grapes of wrath / $c John Steinbeck.
650 _0 $a Grapes.

245 00 To the lighthouse / $c Virginia Woolf.
650 _0 $a Lighthouses.

245 00 Gravity's rainbow / $c Thomas Pynchon.
650 _0 $a Rainbows.

245 04 $a The silver chair / $c C.S. Lewis.
650 _0 $a Chairs.

245 04 The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy / $c Douglas Adams.
651 _0 $a Milky Way $v Guidebooks.

245 00 $a Fahrenheit 451 / $c Ray Bradbury.
650 _0 $a Temperature

245 00 To kill a mockingbird / $c Harper Lee.
650 _0 $a Hunting.

245 00 Running with scissors / $c Augusten Burroughs.
650 _0 $a Safety education.

245 02 A farewell to arms / $c Ernest Hemingway.
650 _0 $a Amputees.

(I thought of this post after cataloging a book of poetry called "The pomegranates of Kandahar." I was struck by the way the title was close to a perfectly formed subject heading which was also completely wrong.)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I remembered!

Right after I posted “Things I think bawb would find interesting about knitting,” I thought of one more thing that I wanted to tell him, but when I went to post it, I couldn’t remember it. And it’s stayed in that half-remembered / half-forgotten state ever since, until this morning, when I remembered it again.


Bawb, here’s one more thing:

Knitters often use the Fibonacci series to help them design sweaters with stripes of varying widths. (Actually, they’re probably using a modular version of the Fibonacci series, come to think of it, because the stripes get bigger and smaller again.)

You can see examples
here and here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Words I Get Mixed Up

a [French] vb., 3rd pers. sing. of avoir

a [Welsh] conj., and, whether

а [Russian] conj., but, and

à [French] prep., to, in, at

â [Welsh] prep., with, as, by means of

i [Welsh] prep., to, for; pron., me, I

и [Russian] conj., and

i [Swedish] prep., at, on, in

o [Welsh] prep., from, of; pron., he

о [Russian] prep., about, of, with

y [Welsh] art., the

у [Russian] prep., by, with, about

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Cat. & Reference: The Printer’s Key

If you open up a book to the copyright page, you may notice a string of number which looks something like this:

1 3 5 6 9 10 8 6 4 2

This is called the “printer’s key” or “number line,” and it is used to mark the print run that a given physical book belongs to.

Publishers try to estimate how popular a book is going to be so that they don’t print too many copies and end up with extras. However, sometimes a book is more popular than they anticipate, so the book has to go into a second (or third or fourth) printing. A second printing is supposed to be virtually identical to the first one. There may be very minor corrections or changes, but the point is to be able to use the same plates that were used for the first printing. However, publishers still like to be able to keep track of which printing a book belongs to, so they add the printer’s key to the copyright page of the book. For each new printing, the lowest number is marked out, so that the new lowest number corresponds to the print run.

Sometimes the numbers increase from the outside in (as seen above), which allows the text to remain centered. Sometimes the numbers just increase from right to left. It’s also possible for the printer’s key to include a separate block of years, so that the publisher can keep track of when the book was printed.

Librarians don’t typically pay much attention to the printer’s key or to printing dates; if the book hasn’t changed enough to warrant a new edition, the catalog record from the original printing will still be accurate enough for our purposes. However, if a given printing of a book was particularly rare or valuable, that information might be included in a note.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

“You are such a fool to worry like you do.” (a svithe)

Things I needn’t have worried about:

1. Not finding a job. (I only had to send out 3 resumes.)
2. Not finding an apartment. (I only had to respond to 2 ads.)
3. Not getting along with my roommate. (She’s great.)
4. Having problems with my wrists hurting all the time when I got to Maine. (They don’t.)

I think the point is not just to be grateful for the above blessings, but to find a way to approach life that doesn’t involve constant worry.

(I.e., have faith.)