Expatriot Act

The university of these days is a collection of books.

30 September 2006

A followup on nerds vs geeks

I thought this was seriously really funny:

White and Nerdy

26 September 2006

C'est la vie, say the old folks, goes to show you never can tell.

If you guys know me at all, you know I LOVE Halloween. Love.it. And because of that I've been cursing Pittsburgh, where I will be for the best weekend of the year, doing decidedly un-Halloweeny things. During the last on-campus I was thinking we could have a big Halloween party somewhere, but since it'll be pretty jammed up with schoolwork I think that's an impossibility. But maybe, if we plan ahead, we could have a little one? Like, at someone's house for instance? (cough, Stefanie, cough). Or maybe get dressed in costume and go to a bar? I mean, we're going to be drinking anyway, we might as well be dressed up! But we'd have to plan in advance, just so people can bring a costume, because I do not want to be the only one dressed up (and I WILL dress up).

So, is anyone interested in a little costume party thing while we're at Pitt? Just a few of us, of course ;) I have a pretty easy costume already in mind, as you can tell from the images here. What I'd really like to do is do the O.D.'d Mia Wallace, complete with syringe in her chest, but I never could think of the proper way to get it to stand up (that's what he said). Maybe just a blood-trickle from the nose would suffice...

25 September 2006

How I'm Feeling about the Strategic Plan Assignment right now...

19 September 2006

WKDU Project Notes: First exec meeting

Tonight I went down to WKDU for the first time in probably two years (since I graduated undergrad). I felt like a bit of an olde lady at first (most of the execs are not old enough to drink, and the two positions I held there - publications director and public affairs director - don't exist anymore!) but mostly things are very much the same. The exec staff seems a bit more laid back and open to suggestion than some previous administrations (maybe they were a bit intimidated by me because I'm a scary olde lady now). One of the biggest differences is the addition of the faculty advisor, who is much more hands on about things than previous ones, actually has a great deal of radio experience and connections, and is using them to promote and improve KDU in some tangible ways. He gave me the name of a sympathetic Drexel librarian who might be of help to me, so I have an action plan and WKDU's blessing to continue poking around for more info. So far, so good.

I also got to take a bunch of pictures, I figured they'd be useful, and also that some of you who've been reading this might wonder what it's like down there. There are lots of fun things to take pictures of in KDU (including a full Risk-style war scene with army men and barracks glued to the ceiling), but since my camera only holds about 10 pics I had to stick to the library-related stuff.

One row in the record library. Note the letters for filing in alphabetical order.

Imagine trying to find a record when faced with hundreds of shelves that look like this.

WKDU's record library, long view. Note the CDs are creeping in on the records' territory.

This reminds me of the cinematic masterpiece Party Girl "That's OK everybody, let's just put things back WHEREVER WE WANT!!"

Standing on this rickety ladder brought back a lot of memories. Mostly of getting vertigo when looking in the "B" section and desperately hoping I didn't break my neck. When you're underground in a locked radio station, no one can hear you scream...

Part of the CD library at WKDU. That is not a ghost on the right, it is a trashbag. The roof has been leaking!

Crates of CDs waiting to be filed, like orphans looking for a home.

KDU deters thieves upon penalty of DEATH. There is another sign somewhere that illustrates the exact way that your hands will be cut off if you're caught. Don't go down that road, kids, and stay in school!

One of the not-so-gently loved records in the library, Black Flag's (here ironically titled) Damaged.

A close up of the tag. Originally I took this shot because I thought it was funny. It reads, "Black Flag Damaged - it really is! 12/1/81." Then I realized, this record was added to the WKDU library on the exact day and year of my birth! It looks like it's been through a war. My war! Har har I'm not funny.

WKDU Project Notes: my visit to the UArts Library

Sorry, dear readers, if this is boring, but your humble narrator needs to keep her thoughts on this project somewhere so I don't forget anything.

I met with the University of the Arts Music Librarian Dr. Mark Germer last night. Their music library is located on the third floor of the Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St. Surprisingly to me (but I guess I've never been in a music library before, so this could be the way they usually are) the bulk of the space in the library was taken up by books on music, scores, and magazines. They also had a very nifty listening area that patrons were actually using! Their actual storage facility for the CDs and LPs was pretty small, Mark said he got the LP collection down to about 12,000 (WKDU probably has about 30k).

Speaking with Mark was super helpful, as I definitely don't know my ass from my elbow about cataloguing a music collection, and I'm completely flying by the seat of my pants. He showed me OCLC's WorldCat, which we used to look up some semi-obscure titles we have in the vinyl library at WKDU, to see if they were listed. We looked up the punk band Flipper, and sure enough, their albums were catalogued in WorldCat (although, oddly, the albums for Queens of the Stone Age were a few pages into the search results. Go figure.) He explained to me that OCLC is a collective of sorts, and you are expected to give as well as take. But when I think about the kids who will be cataloguing the records at WKDU now and in the future, I think it'd be best on all accounts if we just used OCLC as a reference tool to look up information about albums to be catalogued, and load that information into a local database of our own.

Mark brought up a lot of interesting points that I hadn't previously considered about this project. Since OCLC is web-based, it is possible that if we spoke with the Drexel library they would let us use their username for looking-up purposes for free (we are, after all, a student organization). The trick, though, would be that I know most WKDU DJs and the exec staff would not want Drexel to then use our cataloguing efforts as a way to quantify our holdings and make them available to Drexel students and personnel. The physical space of the station, the lack of supervising personnel, and records' uncanny ability to walk makes that an impossibility. It is important with this project to always, ALWAYS keep the best interest of the users - the WKDU DJs - at heart, despite the attractiveness of more dangerous liasions. His point did give me the notion that I should be careful what I ask for, and I should talk to the WKDU exec staff before poking my nose around the Drexel library, so I will talk to them at their meeting tonight and see what shakes out. I'm a little nervous. I hope it goes well.

Where to go from here? I think the project is doable, I think it will be cheaper than we thought, I think it's possible to do without any grant money whatsoever. Ideally we would get free access to OCLC as a guiding tool, but we would be able to also set our own standards (what Mark called "minimal cataloguing," he uses a similar, abbreviated method for his vinyl collection) that any WKDU kid or new member entering a record could handle. The job of the record librarian would be to supervise/spot check the records going in for accuracy. My dream database program would be free or cheap, open source, particularly suited or modifiable for a music collection, run on Mac, and have the ability to have a long list of keywords to search by (man, tag clouds of the KDU collection would be an INCREDIBLE tool for DJs)...I'm all ears to any suggestions of such a program. Natural language and a set list of genres and guidelines would be key (and one of the most difficult parts of the project!) A possible grant would be to pay for the software for x years and maybe some initial freelance cataloguers if we find that doing it ourselves is too difficult (although, I think, a freelance cataloguer might be a bad idea. How would you catalog Kraftwerk for example? Electronic? Punk? New Wave? Krautrock? Experimental? File under A for Awesome?) It could get very confusing very fast, especially for the uninitiated to WKDU. There needs to be a fair amount of flexibility with the system (as Kraftwerk is all of the above, in my opinion, so all of these descriptors should be keywords). Also different genres' DJs have different needs from a system - the difference between an extended dance mix and a radio single might mean a great deal to an electronic DJ, for instance (while track times could be useful to any DJ, which is something routinely featured in WorldCat). So, so much to consider! But I think if I can get the support of the exec staff and get them up and running (maybe with a semester of independent study...cataloguing and coming up with manuals for later cataloguers to use), KDU will do what it's always done, getting their motivated members to do it themselves. Which would rock.

Tonight: off to WKDU for the first time in years, taking pics of the record library, talking to the exec staff. Wish me luck.

18 September 2006

I Love Youtube

I'm still watching the rebroadcast of the Daily Show from yesterday, and I saw the most hilarious spoof of those celebrity translator Geico commericals featuring Little Richard translating for Bush talking about 9/11, and I look on Youtube and there it is. Awesome!

17 September 2006

I ain't gettin' better I am only gettin' behind

Standin at the crossroads tryin' to make up my mind...

I started off the semester with a bang but I'll be damned if I can motivate myself to do anything right now! The only project I want to work on is the KDU one, I've been searching articles all day on Information Retrieval and I feel like no matter what I write it's going to be inadequate. I don't know why. It doesn't help that the assignment is supposed to be "brief," but doesn't have a real length suggestion. Normally I'm fine with that, but I thought I was OK and on par with the others in my small group for my Managerial Theorists assignment, but when we posted them on the big board the others who did the same theorist as me wrote a lot more, and did a much better job. Bah. I really need to get out of this funk and get my head in the game!

That said, it's about 5:30 and I'm getting ready to go see Magnolia Electric Company, one of my favorite bands. It's not fall without seeing Jason Molina open his mouth just a little bit and all the beautiful tones in the world come pouring out. Hopefully it'll clear my mind a bit, and I'll come home ready to actually write this thing. Yee-haw.

16 September 2006

There's an Army on the Dancefloor

Had lots of fun last night, still trying to learn this whole Flickr thing, but the rest of the fun photos are on my set.

The theme was back to school and my outfit? You guessed it, naughty librarian. Ha!

15 September 2006

Smashing Pumpkins

Sadly this entry is not about my favorite band of all time.

Woke up this morning a bit groggy but still in a pretty good mood...going dancing tonight, and had already made plans with my girlfriends at work to get my first Starbucks soy Pumpkin Latte of the season. I love anything pumpkin-flavored, especially coffee and beer. So we go to the closest Starbucks, it's closed (lack of electricity, it seems). Go to the second closest, get the latte, get back to work. I put it on my desk and get ready to get down to bidness and I tap the cardboard box of 500 mints that's sitting on my desk, which knocks over the giant industrial stapler right onto my dear sweet Pumpkin latte, which then EXPLODES all over my keyboard, mouse, and dumbs a Grande mess all over the floor. I think I got one sip of it before this happened! Then I spent the whole morning calling facilities, watching the shocked faces of onlookers at the giant wetvac and custodial worker in my cube, calling IT to get a new keyboard, and generally feeling grandly sorry for myself.

Couldn't bear to go all the way back to the Starbucks (plus, it was about 11am at this point, and I haven't done a single lick of work!) so I went upstairs to the cafeteria. The door to the stairs gets thrown in my face by my annoying co-worker, then I pump the coffee carafe and, that's right! Only two pumps and it's empty. I had to wait another 10 minutes for the pot to refill. On the way back to my desk with my coffee I pass the custodial worker who just cleaned my cube, and promised him I had a death grip on the fucking thing. So, now that it's 30 minutes til lunch, I guess I should get to work. Bah!

This is my second thwarted attempt at getting a Pumpkin latte (the first time they were out of soy milk). At least my cube smells like nutmeg.

14 September 2006

These posts sure are getting long...

Late night last night, was at the coffee shop with Christian until 9, working on my stupid Management Theorist assignment that I wanted to get over with before I got to the other two assignments having to do with my KDU project. Lately I've been overwhelmed with the feeling of just how wonderful it is to be around my friends. From Fiber Nite to the Ulysses group to the coffee shop with Debbie, Zinnia, Justin or Christian, everyone is such a pleasure. I was having problems thinking of a way to write about Herbert Simon's theories (he's just a straight up post-war rationalist...he did lots of interesting important shit in other fields but this organizational theory didn't really yank my crank). Having Christian at the coffee shop to give me the philosophy student rundown was really helpful, it almost feels like cheating, but it's not, it's LEARNING. Imagine that.

When I got down to writing my KDU Organizational Description, I was in the zone, my typin' fingers were a-flyin'. I still have to write a 3-page environmental scan for the same project today (I hope it's not redundant at all) but all in all I just continually feel better and better about my project. I hope to go to Temple today to get a library 101 lesson from Justin. Wish I could do some Ulysses reading tonight but I doubt it's possible. Normally I'm not big on the rain but lately I've been revelling in it...the gray, the cool air, the ability to cuddle up with the cat and some coffee and read and be productive. The urge to listen to bands like Radiohead and Leonard Cohen and early 20th century French jazz.

Well here's my org description, but I cut out the budget stuff because they're real numbers I used, and I don't think that's everyone's business.

Organization Description – WKDU 91.7 FM Philadelphia (http://www.wkdu.org)

WKDU is probably one of the only truly non-commercial brick-and-mortar radio stations in the country. Unlike NPR stations, WKDU has no underwriting of any kind, and derives its entire operating budget from Drexel University’s student activities fees. WKDU’s programming is also special in that it is free form, the only rules are 1.) at least 1/3 of their show has to be “new music” and 2.) DJs can only play artists you cannot hear on commercial radio stations or MTV. Although that second tenet might sound incredibly restrictive, the shows on WKDU are incredibly diverse, spanning genres of punk, indie rock, jazz, hip-hop, reggae, electronic, and music that defies description. WKDU is an entirely student and alumni run organization of 88 active members. There is a lone faculty advisor whose main job is to sign papers that officiate the student executive body’s decisions. WKDU is an 800-watt radio station, which would serve practically no one if it weren’t situated in the densely populated Philadelphia area, where it manages to reach potentially over 1 million listeners in the transmitter’s serving area. In addition to the radio transmission, WKDU offers a live stream of their broadcasts available via WKDU.org, and fans from around the world can instant message DJs with their requests in real time.

WKDU has been started amassing its music collection sometime in the 1970s, when it officially became Drexel’s radio station and adopted the call letters WKDU. Although no definitive count exists, student executives at WKDU estimate their vinyl collection to weigh in at nearly 50,000 strong – more than 30,000 12” LPs, more than 10,000 7” records, and even nearly 100 10” LPs. The CD collection, which grows at a rate of about 30 titles a week, contains at least 50,000 CDs. Both the CD and record libraries are dusty, overflowing, and barely organized alphabetically. Users of the CD library have the advantage of the design of CDs that enables them to visually scan the spines of the CDs when searching for a title. Searching for a particular title in the vinyl library, however, often proves a fool’s errand, as one has to literally flip through records to find what you’re looking for, without knowing for certain whether the record has been misfiled, the record has been stolen, the record is in use, or the record was never owned by WKDU in the first place. DJs have long been hoping for a database of some type to help them find what they’re looking for, and a classification system that not only allows them to know what they really have in the collection, but ways to search by keywords, genre, year, etc.

The organizational culture of WKDU is an interesting one. Although the 88 active members are diverse in terms of age, race, economic background, they were all at some point students of Drexel University, and all very committed music fanatics. In recent years WKDU has had trouble attracting new members, as some find the amount of work expected of these student volunteers not worth the coolness factor of being on the radio, especially when one can podcast for practically nothing in the comfort of their own home. It is actually the resources of WKDU’s music collection (as well as the community of DJs, and the paying DJing opportunities around the city that come with the notoriety of being a WKDU DJ) that ultimately attracts students to the organization. Once a student is hooked into WKDU, though, the loyalty is fierce and unending, in fact there are many alumni who continue to be active in the day-to-day operations of WKDU and DJ on the air who began their tenure with WKDU 20 years ago! As DJs are unpaid and orchestrating a weekly 3-hour, commercial-free radio shows time-consuming, the commitment of the WKDU DJ is worth noting. Because the DJs are so emotionally invested in their endeavor, a lot of in-fighting ensues, especially from those who feel others are taking more from WKDU than they are putting into it. WKDU DJs are extremely technologically savvy; student DJs engineer live bands playing on the air and make professional recordings of their performances for later airplay, they also routinely perform feats of d.i.y. engineering on the station’s equipment when it breaks. DJs nearly unanimously prefer Macs and the entire station is outfitted with a veritable arsenal of Macs—both brand new and ancient—and are voracious early adopters of new technology, despite their penchant for vinyl. The entire staff votes each year on an executive body of students and alumni who make the important decisions of the station and to whom grievances are referred, and they in turn appoint junior executive positions for students to carry out. One of the most thankless and impotent of these positions is record librarian – currently the position is unfilled.

[budget stuff cut out]

The climate at WKDU is ripe for a change in the way their record library is managed, judging from a preliminary email survey sent to the active member e-mail list. Some responses:

“It would also be tremendously helpful if there were some hard and fast rules for alphabetizing the CDs posted where all the DJs can see them so some doofus doesn't put Explosions in the Sky under the "S" CDs. After putting in all my new DJ hours in the record library, I can't understand how some of the DJs passed 1st grade.”

“Due to theft, there are some glaring holes in the record library. This is especially apparent with the early Revelation catalog, and some of the "bigger" early straight edge bands like SSD and Uniform Choice (Staring into the Sun, but not Screaming for Change? There's a problem there!)

Also, there is no definitive list of what is actually in the library. A lot of times, you'll say, "I wonder if we have ________," and then you have to just dig for it unless you've seen it there before. Also, a lot of people suck at putting things back in their proper places which makes nearly every visit for a popular LP something of a dig.”

“It's the most important thing possible. For kids involved with punk rock, it creates an archive of our history. Records, zines, live tapes, and photographs are all little pieces and memories that need to be collected and protected. With my own record collection, I see it this way: As long as I have a copy of Break Down the Walls in my possession, no matter what happens in the rest of the world, it'll never be completely forgotten. As stupid as that sounds, I think it's important for KDU to maintain that sort of mentality. As long as we maintain this library, there's a chance in the future some kid with no clue will pick up a Bad Brains record and have his life totally changed.”


C'est tout. I hope I can get my enviro scan done at work today around the work-work I have, so I might actually get to sleep at a decent time and rest up for dancin' the night away tomorrow night.

13 September 2006


Last night was our first meeting of the Ulysses reading group. It went so well! I expected most of the first meeting to be awkward silence, or one or two blowhards trampling everyone else, but it went really well and everyone got words in and we covered a lot of ground. It really was the best scenario I could have imagined, you never know what strangers are going to be like, especially with something as personal as the way you read or interpret a book. Everyone seems smart and I think as we read more we'll have even more to say. Also I drank my first Guinness! (and my second...) I don't know why I was so scared of it before, it's actually pretty easy to drink. After some persuasion Justin says he'll kindly write me a few paragraphs about the Irish conflict around the turn of the century for the group blog. I had fun, and thanks to last night's group meeting and a long walk home in last night's fantastic weather, I woke up feeling refreshed...although I still wanted to stay in bed and cuddle the cat. Maybe Saturday!


Am I ever the busy beaver this week! Tonight I had to cancel on my work's charity Quizzo to do work (I'm meeting Christian at Chapterhouse to work, definitely my new haunt, practically been setting up residence there lately.) I have like 3 or 4 assignments due tomorrow that I've done general work on but haven't really started (eep.) and my KDU project involves a lot of legwork, so I'm running around a lot for that (it actually reminds me of my reporter days, which is a bit of a rush). So my week is shaping up to look something like this:

Thursday - possibly going to Temple's library after work to meet Justin and get a hang of the programs they use and such, since I've never worked in a library before, and maybe meet their music librarian, he tells me. If not Thursday night then definitely Sunday.

Friday - dancin' til the breaka breaka dawn.

Saturday - probably lots of school work and going to the movies

Sunday - either a reschedule of my Temple visit or more work

Monday - visit with the UArts music librarian right after work

I would also like to get to KDU sometime next week, inspect the record library, take pictures, etc. I'm getting a lot of good responses from the DJs which makes me happy. I just hope I can keep up the momentum! Especially now that my actual paying job is ramping up again, I've been pretty busy this week at work and they want me to give a big presentation probably sometime next week. I just keep thinking of Kevin MacDonald from Kids in the Hall saying "Things to do, things to do..."

But I definitely am in much better spirits, at least. I love the fall!

12 September 2006

Commit Library Warfare

Me circa 2002. Yes, I'm in my PJs, was never without those giant headphones (I have better big ones now, need to break them out for the winter) and look how short and punk my hair was! It was longer in the front.)

I have to say I wasn't psyched at all when I found out we had to take a class on Library Management. Zzzz. But like a bolt of lightning, inspiration struck me what project I could do, and now I'm super amped on it. I'm going to write a grant proposal to get my college radio station, WKDU, a cataloguing system for their record library. WKDU is probably the only really non-commerical, brick-and-mortar radio station out there. We do not have any commercials or underwriting, nor do we play any music that you can hear on other stations (and you wonder how I became a music snob!) Of course for now it's all hypothetical, but it could be very useful for them in the future if I do a good job, so I'm determined to do some serious research here.

I got some estimates from my boy Adam at KDU about how much we actually even have in the library, and they really are just estimates but there is way more than I thought. For example:

12" vinyl LPs = 30,000
7" vinyl = 10,000
10" vinyl = 50-100 (I didn't even know 100 10" records were even ever pressed!)
CDs (although I'm focusing on vinyl for this project, I wanted to know) = about 50k

And this collection is completely unorganized. It is in vague, dubiously alphabetical order. That system works fairly well for CDs as you can read the spines of the CD at a glance, but for our records, the general consensus is that no one knows what we really have. Nor is it remotely possible to say, search for a punk record from 1981 from a band that begins with a W. So I'm going to write my fake grant to get them a cataloguing system, an extra server, and the manhours for the initial setup. It's all a pipedream but the research could at least be useful to them down the line and I think I'll learn a ton. I'm meeting with University of the Arts music librarian Dr. Mark Germer on Monday to look at their collection and how it's set up. Also I sent out a survey to the KDU DJ mailing list, here is a sampling of some of the responses I got:

"Due to theft, there are some glaring holes in the record library. This is especially apparent with the early Revelation catalog, and some of the "bigger" early straight edge bands like SSD and Uniform Choice (Staring into the Sun, but not Screaming for Change? There's a problem there!) Also, there is no definitive list of what is actually in the library. A lot of times, you'll say, "I wonder if we have ________," and then you have to just dig for it unless you've seen it there before. Also, a lot of people suck at putting things back in their proper places which makes nearly every visit for a popular LP something of a dig."

"The record library could use some monthly alphabetizing. things get misfiled kind of often. it would also be nice if there was a database accessible to all DJs, so that DJs could search to determine whether or not a certain record ever existed in the library. it could also stand to have some additional lighting, and a dust job."

"After putting in all my new DJ hours in the record library, I can't understand how some of the DJs passed 1st grade."

And the real reason why this project is super exciting to me is summed up by one respondant:

"It's the most important thing possible. For kids involved with punk rock, it creates an archive of our history. Records, zines, live tapes, and photographs are all little pieces and memories that need to be collected and protected. With my own record collection, I see it this way: As long as I have a copy of Break Down the Walls in my posession, no matter what happens in the rest of the world, it'll never be completely forgotten. As stupid as that sounds, I think it's important for KDU to maintain that sort of mentality. As long as we maintain this library, there's a chance in the future some kid with no clue will pick up a Bad Brains record and have his life totally changed."

I hope I can manage to put into this project what it needs to be worth something. I would love to be able to give something back to KDU. But for now, I would settle for an A.

07 September 2006

What to Do in Philly When You're Dead

I'm minorly helping out with this awesome Fringe Festival event tomorrow, if you're near Philly you should come because this is going to be a phenomenonal event. Members of Espers, Fursaxa, and Grass playing a live original soundtrack over the 1970s Czech psychedelic vampire flick Valerie and her Week of Wonders. TWO HARPS, PEOPLE. And you thought you've seen it all...

It's getting a lot of press so it might even sell out early (it will most definitely sell out at the door), you can read all about it here.

01 September 2006

What's the greatest nation in the world?


There is practically no one around at work, and I'm a tired, tired egg. Last night, when I did fall asleep, the cold air was flitting in the windows and touching my face, it was wonderful! I wish I were back in bed right now! Had a cuppa coffee earlier today, finishing my peachy green iced tea I made right now, at 3 I'll be getting another cup of java, which will hopefully fuel me through some schoolwork before dinner, when I switch to beer. Hopefully I will not have to get another cup of coffee before the show, but that is sadly a possibility. I expect to sleep in big time tomorrow morning before bombarding myself with more work. The only thing I can think to keep me awake at work today? Listening to all the Nirvana I have on my iPod. It is helping more than you'd think.

No recess! NO RE-CESSSSSSS!!! I hear ya Kurt, I hear ya.