Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Making Connections

On Sunday my mother asked for some help with her message for the Na'amat year book. As president she needed to write words of greeting, some plans, and hopes for the up coming year. After discussing some of her ideas concerning Na'amat she mentioned that one big concern was the need for new, young members, who would take over the organization. She has been a member for more than 55 years. In her chapter are friends who have been there all those years. She also remembers those who have passed on. Two of her first cousins, who died before age 50, were members from the beginning. Many of the members have lost husbands.

I suggested that she try to make some connection between the local activities and what was done with the funds in Israel. She told me that she donated money for a scholarship fund in memory of my father and I suggested trying to find the beneficiary and tell her story. At first my mother did not know the name. On Monday she found out the name and the fact she went to Beit Berl College and lived in Petah Tikvah. I offered to help find her. I went to the online Israeli phone book to check the number. The person did not have a common last name, but there was no listing.

I called my aunt who lives in Jerusalem for advice. She offered to call because she knew someone in Petach Tikvah. I said that I would just call the person in the phone book. I called and speaking in Hebrew told the person who answered that I was calling from Chicago in the United States and I was looking for Rachel. The person who answered was her father. He gave me the daughter's phone number and I called her. The reason that I couldn't find her in the phone directory was that she had a different last name than the name my mother was given.

When I reached her and identified myself I realized that she was the correct person. I was sort of a loss for words. I wanted to ask all about her life, but felt that was too invasive. She told me how grateful she was for the Na'amat scholarship and that she is now a kindergarten teacher. She also had two aunts who are teachers in Na'amat schools. The little push of the scholarship allowed her to get the education to be a teacher. She told me her Facebook name and I befriended her. I sent her and e-mail asking her to tell me more and she answered.

We found the person who was helped and now she is able to help 4-5 year-old children. I hope that the story puts a human face to my mother's new year message and she finds the new members that her group needs.

Out of State

The expression, "I going out of state” has always bugged me. "Out of state?" has no connection to distance or time traveled. I live in a metropolitan area of two or three states. I am not sure if Wisconsin is part of the metropolitan area. Many metropolitan areas include three states such as Washington, DC, New York, and Dubuque, IA. Detroit - Windsor is a metropolitan area spanning the US and Canada. Kansas City is in two states with only State Line Road dividing them. When traveling most highways from one state to the next only a sign tells you that you have crossed a boarder. What is the big deal about moving or travelng "out of state?"

Some states are so small that one could drive across them in less than an hour. Some are more than 700 miles in one dimension making them difficult to drive across in one day. Rhode Island is so small it could get lost in some of our national parks. Yellowstone National Park is 3472 square miles while Rhode Island is 1214 square miles and Delaware is 2490. If I start out from my house, I could drive for 30 miles and still be in the same city. If I were in Rhode Island and drove 30 miles, chances are high that I would be in another state. The official name of the state according to its constitution is: State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations? Thus the smallest state in area has the longest name.

I suspect "out of state" is a Germanism. "Stadt" in German means city. The etymology of the word is from Old High German, stat or statt meaning a place or location. The Oxford English Dictionary while it acknowledges a similarity in sound between "state" and "stadt" says that the words do not share the same etymology. OED says that the all the meanings of "state" are from the old French estat which is from the Latin status. OED says that the Latin was the source of the German, Staat meaning "state" (as in political entity) In some cities such as St. Louis and Cincinnati German language had an influence on local expressions, but I don't see this as the case with "out of state." Both Cincinnati and St. Louis are bi-state metropolitan areas. Crossing the river to another state in the same metropolitan area is a daily occurrence. The metropolitan airport for Cincinnati is in Kentucky.

A search of 18th and 19th century books for the expression "out of state" yields results concerning taxation and law when person is in another state or travels. Jurisdiction is the concern, not distance. When the expression is used for differential treatment as in differential tuition "out of state" seems very appropriate. But for traveling "Out of state" is less useful than "I'm going out of town or I'm going to Cleveland."

I’m going on a little trip out of town this week – anyone want to join me in visiting Skokie?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Search Engine Test

For years I have been telling students that search engines and data bases are different. Search engines index by machine. They have no ability to figure out words in context.Since language is full of ambiguities including words that have multiple definitions and multiple words for the same concept, machine indexing sometimes fails. Subject headings are an attempt to assign describers from a controlled vocabulary. Subject headings change with the times, but the process is slow. When teaching about searching data bases as compared with search engines I tell students if I wrote "This is not about ..." Google would still match it.

This is the test. This article has nothing to do with any the following topics:

1) New York City Subways
2) Bananas
3) Audio recording
3) Chicago Cubs
4) Microscopic synergy
5) Sprecher Brewery
6) Lakefront Brewery
7) Elmer Fudd meets Walter Wabbit

If you found this article with any of those keywords, I have succeeded in defeating Google's indexing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Creating a podcast II

After posting two lectures and an interview prepared for classes I decided I was ready for the next step in podcasting. First I read a book about podcasting and learned more than I thought possible about creating and publicizing podcasts. The I had to decide on what I wanted to accomplish.

In my synagogue a recent college graduate sits behind me. His father is a friend and about my age. This young man created his own business to scan photos and create digital files for them. This is a way of organizing and a connection to what a cataloger does.

The book had a chapter on equipment. One can start with minimal equipment, a microphone and a program to record and edit MP3 files. My study is very good for recordings. There is no echo because of all the books and other sound dampening on the walls and almost no outside sound enter the room unless the window is open and the sound is loud.

Before starting I tested all my microphones. I have cheapo microphones that came with my computers, a small condenser lavaliere microphone, a high quality stereo microphone from Radio Shack, a Logitec USB microphone attached to a headset, and a Logitec hand held USB microphone. For my lectures I used the headset microphone because it produced high quality sound and didn't require me to hold it. All the audio microphones from the low quality to the high put an audible buzz in the recording. The sound is small enough to not notice if not recording the sound, but terrible for recordings. The USB microphones produced a high quality recording without any buzz. I used the hand held one because the recording system only allows input from one source. I do not have a sound mixing device. When the microphones are used for recording on tape recorders there is no buzz. Since I don't have a digital recorder yet, I was not able to test the microphones on one.

A next step would be to figure out the best way to record a phone interview and to purchase a digital voice recorder so that I am not limited to in studio interviews.

To produce this show I had to talk with the guest and tell him what I wanted to accomplish. I listened to him tell me about his work. After the recording we had about 19 minutes of material. I edited the file to remove the pauses, mistakes, and the "you knows" and "ahhs." This made the final product sound smoother and much more professional. I added my beginning and ending themes from music that I acquired the rights to and an additional four minute segment on Google and copyright. The final episode is about 18 minutes long.

Please make comments and send me about ideas for future programs. There is no schedule. I will produce shows when I have people to interview and the time to devote to the task recording and editing.

To listen to this episode, follow the link below:
Librarian's Lobby Online

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rumor, fraud, and dumb mistakes

I just received what looked like an urgent e-mail from one of my cousins with the subject line "AN UNTIMELY SAD MESSAGE." I thought someone died because we usually use "sad" in the message line to report a death in the family.

The message was part of a letter writing campaign concerning a university that removed Holocaust from it curriculum. The whole message sounded fishy because the way it described the event is just not how universities work. There is no unified curriculum that would include or not include the teaching of any particular event. A person in the sciences may never take any history beyond the basics. The university mentioned does have a Jewish Studies department that has a course on the Holocaust. This rumor started when someone confused UK with the University of Kentucky. The rumor mill became so strong the public relations department issued a denial on Nov. 8, 2007. (http://news.uky.edu/news/display_article.php?artid=2873)

"The academic administration of the University of Kentucky would never permit such a grotesque lapse in its commitment to the principle of academic freedom. Let us bury this rumor. It is a distortion of the realities on and off campus," said Assistant Provost Richard B. Greissman.

Academic freedom is a strong tenant of higher education. Colleges and universities are supposed to be teaching the critical thinking skills one needs to survive in the world.

The Web site Snopes.com does a great job of investigating rumors and reporting the real story. Before forwarding any e-mail that claims something hard to believe, use your critical thinking skill and please investigate. Don't make the dumb mistake of spreading a fraud or rumor.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I've "Made it"

My son says that I've "made it" because an unsigned letter to the editor of the Denver Jewish News (January 15, 2010) called me a liar. The letter was not even clear as to what facts they claimed I lied about. The letter writer was commenting on an article I wrote for my Librarian's Lobby column in June 2007. I replied telling them to read Title 17 of the US Code dealing with copyrights. I'm not even going to grace this space with the URL, however, if you Google "Daniel Stuhlman Denver " you should find it.