Where You Can Find Me

Still have some proper posts cooking in the pot, including some book reviews and thoughts on board games and library science, maybe even a PAIGI. Until then, I thought I’d let you know what places on the Internet I haunt these days.

On Twitter, you can find me @theseventhl.

On Steam (which I haven’t started yet but it’s still there!), you can find me at gunsandships1776.

On BoardGameGeek, you can find me at lafayetteouioui (see a theme between those two?).

On Pogo, you can find me at PinkStarsFalling (although I currently do not have a Club Pogo membership).

On Kitsu.io, you can find me at theseventhl (this is the anime/manga cataloging site I’ve switched to after abandoning MyAnimeList).

I am also on Goodreads and LibraryThing. I use Goodreads and LibraryThing to both catalog what I’ve read; Goodreads is also where I keep my actual reviews and do my yearly reading challenge, while LibraryThing is where I connect with librarian groups and mess around with beginner cataloging.

If there’s anything I’ve forgotten, it’s probably not worth mentioning (and yes, that includes Facebook). Look out for an actual blog post soon!

 

PAIGI: Resources For The Citizen Scientist

So in my last PAIGI (Physics As I See It) post, I mentioned a bad experience at my campus engineering library. I found that not every librarian in a STEM-specific library is trained to find field-specific resources. I took a question about Richard Feynman’s QED lectures to the reference desk and walked away unsatisfied but also curious about how that interaction could have gone differently. If she had, say, looked in a database or a STEM-specific resource instead of Googling, would we have found what I was looking for? Was training to blame, or a lack of intuitive knowledge about physics?

So instead of going in on this young lady who probably is not a library science student and probably never heard of Feynman in her life, I’ll share with everyone some of the resources I have used to find physics and STEM-related information. Most of them are online, since students often spend the majority of time in front of a computer. Some of it may seem obvious or just intuitive, but in the interest of transparency, I’ll be sharing them all.

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Thursday Night Reading List

I’m sorry for the radio silence! Between classes, the job hunt, and wrangling health insurance from my school, it’s been a busy week and a half. I actually have some posts coming down the pipe in the next couple of days or so, but until then, I’d like to share with you some of the interesting articles I’ve been reading when I’ve had the time to.

Image: A Photoshop of Isaac Newton's head imposed upon a man's body while riding in a moving bumper car.

PAIGI: Things That Going Bumper Car In The Night

In Monday’s reference class, we looked at a variety of virtual reference interactions, and one of the example queries immediately grabbed my attention — because, of course, it was about physics! Unfortunately, it was part of an example of a horrid reference interview, but it did have me wondering: could I have answered the question if I had been the librarian at the desk for that patron? Let’s find out! It’s PAIGI (Physics As I Get It) time!

Here is the question: “When you drive forward in a bumper car at high speed and you slam into the car in front of you, you find yourself thrown forward in your car. Which way is your car accelerating?”

I admit, I am not as far into my independent physics studies as I would like, but that’s okay. I’ve already read a good bit about acceleration and the mechanics of objects in motion, so I’ll try to tackle this question with what I know already and supplement the inevitable gaps with research online.

Note: all definitions and equations, unless cited otherwise, are paraphrased from the fifth edition of W. Thomas Griffith’s “The Physics of Everyday Phenomena”.

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A Map Of The Cat: Tell Me What You Really Want

Richard Feynman, before he revolutionized physics and became the leading figure in quantum electrodynamics, was just an average (well, maybe not average) college student the day he walked into his campus library and asked for one thing: a map of the cat.

The poor librarian working the biology section that day was aghast. “A map of the cat, sir?” One can imagine the horror in her voice, the absolutely shocked expression on her face.

She managed, however, to set young Feynman straight. She led him to the appropriate zoology materials and to the charts that he needed –  the “maps” of the cat he was asking for. This story can be read in full in his book, SURELY YOU’RE JOKING, MR. FEYNMAN! (which is an absolute gem of a read no matter what your field is), and Scientific America samples this charming anecdote in a great write-up as Feynman as biologist.

When I first read that story last year as an undergrad English student, I laughed at Feynman’s ineptitude and the naivety of a physics genius barging into the world of biology and attempting to conquer its vocabulary, only to stumble a bit at the starting line. Later, after spending a little time in the LIS program, studying reference work and the functions of the reference desk, I feel sorry for Little Richard. And I certainly do not feel sorry for the librarian!

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Science, Learning, and the Idea of PAIGI

This evening, I attended a panel discussion titled “What Does A Trump Administration Mean For Science?” and I can safely say that it could have benefited from a much larger room. I was lucky enough to get a seat, but there were people standing on the side of the room and sitting on the floor. People really wanted answers, regardless of it being a Friday evening when other things are going on.

From the hour-plus-long event, there were some key points that stood out to me:

  1. Students should be more involved in the process of scientific funding, research, and policy writing.
  2. Science should be spread out and shared in an accessible way to all people, not just STEM folks.
  3. Science literacy is more important now than it has been in years.

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Shaking The Tip Jar

Quick update as we head into the new semester: eagle eyed visitors will notice the Ko-Fi button on the right side of the screen. I’ll also include it below, in case it does not show up on mobile.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Grad school definitely isn’t cheap, and everybody needs help now and then making it through the week. I don’t expect Ko-Fi to pay the bills but if you’ve enjoyed my writing or just feel a bit generous, maybe drop a few bucks in the bucket for the occasional coffee or study snack? I’d be forever grateful for any donations anyone can spare.

We Are Number One

2016 has been a raging dumpster fire of a year, but today I really just need to remind myself of how well I have succeeded over the past 12 months. I have graduated from UMSL with a BA in English, a member of the honors college, and as magna cum laude, during which I had work published in both Litmag (the spring college mag) and Bellerive (the honors college’s fall mag). I am now going to UIUC for my masters in library and information science, after spending 2 years working in the Thomas Jefferson Library, which ultimately cemented my decision to shift from English to LIS. I also got out of the house more, met a lot of amazing people, read a lot of great stuff, did some great writing, and established some wonderful relationships with my professors and supervisors that I hope continue in 2017 and beyond.

So, yeah. You know what? Wasn’t all bad. Positivity still survives somewhere in the world, even if sometimes I forget that it exists. We are number one. We got this. Bring it on, 2017. We are the heroes now.

Democracy’s Muse: Thomas Jefferson and the Burden of Legacy

One of the better books I read this month was Democracy’s Muse by Andrew Burstein, an examination of Thomas Jefferson as a political role model to a wide variety of movements, from Jacksonian Democrats and FDR to Reagan Republicans and the Tea Party. It was a truly fascinating examination of a multifaceted historical figure, and how the ideology and writing of one man can be easily twisted and flipped around by folks of all kinds to serve into one viewpoint or another. Burstein also examined how Jefferson’s legacy has shifted in the wake of his sexual relationship with his female slave Sally Hemings and his religious views.

51W88WaefoLDemocracy’s Muse was an interesting read considering that earlier this year I read American Sphinx by Joseph J. Ellis; the former laid out Jefferson’s self as seen by his successors, the later laid out Jefferson’s self as seen in a more historically placed context, less futuristic in its lens. Dovetailed together, the two books created a much fuller image of Jefferson than I had previously in my mind.

It is also interesting that the issue of legacy is so prevalent in this texts, considering that it is also a main theme in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s uber popular award-winning (Tony award winning!) musical, Hamilton, based on the Ron Chernow biography. Hamilton tries to protect his legacy but takes a disastrous misstep with the publication of the Reynolds Pamphlet, which destroys his political career and kicks off the first legitimate Washington sex scandal in U.S. history. But his immense library of writings, the financial systems and institutions he created, kept his name in the history books as a creator of things, not just a married man who slept with a married woman. Unfortunately, Hamilton worried so much about his legacy while he was living that he didn’t seem to see how secure it really was.

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