Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jane Fonda

Good morning mr and mrs librarian at ALA annual and all the ships at sea!  Sorry if you couldn't make it to annual - just use the hashtag #leftbehindalaac14 and get instant insincere sympathy from you colleagues who got to attend!

Sitting down to a croissant sandwich before the Jane Fonda excitement takes over the Las Vegas convention center.  Actually, sitting down is merely a polite gesture as I'm going to scarf this thing down and head to the exhibits hall for more swag.  

Busy day ahead - going to interview Alexander McCall Smith, popular author at 2:40 today - I'm so nervous!  I hear he's a great guy, though, so viva free-floating anxiety!

Friday, June 27, 2014

UPDATE: U-Stream Fail

Because internet access at the LVCC is so spotty, I won't be ustreaming the beginning session of Craftcon; I will attend a session and blog about it!

Sorry if peoples were going to tune in - I'll try to stream the opening of the exhibits floor.

Day 2: Vegas morning

I am soooo glad I don't live here, as I'd be a helpless gambling addict.  I think that's where all the homeless people come from - arriving in Las Vegas with hopes and dreams of hitting it "big" and succumbing to the vicissitudes of Lady Luck and her capricious nature.  Okay, that's probably wrong, but I can definitely see myself as a young woman getting into some terrible, terrible trouble in Sin City.

So I woke up early, went to McDonald's (after the lousy in-house coffee and danish yesterday, I went straight to the old go-to for cheap, fresh breakfast), and then sat down at a couple of slot machines and ended up 3-dollars ahead!  Woo-hoo!  I'm like my dad, who was game but not a gambler.

Off to Hash House A Go Go to meet up with Facebook (hope-to-be-real) friends and then hopefully make the last hour of the Annual Unconference, which starts at 9am.  Crap!  Just realized that there are THREE Hash Houses in Vegas, and I don't recall which one we were supposed to meet!  Dang!  Okay, deep breath...

Okay.  Okay.  Anyway, just a reminder that I will be live-streaming coverage of two events today, the first session of CraftCon in the Uncommons (2:30pm), and the opening of the Exhibit Floor (5:30pm) - hope you can join me - I'll be filming on my phone so won't have a chance to check chat but I hope peoples who can't make it to either event will take a look and meet some of the great people I've met so far at the Annual ALA Conference for 2014.

Postscript:  Found out which Hash House, duh.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Now that I shelled out the dough to register, I was told that I have access to the shuttles.  I found the shuttle for the riviera which is across the street and waited for the bus driver to open the door.  She ignored me until one of the ALA helpers waved at her and asked her to open the door. It swing open a foot and a half and I squeezed in - my "hello" was greeted with a grunt when I sat down in the first row.  "So, ready for the onslaught of librarians in Las Vegas?" Was completely ignored as the driver continued to flick at her smart phone.  

Woman without a country

Or without a press pass.  After a frustrating 45 minute sit in the American Libraries Magazine office, I'm now standing in line for advanced registration to open.  Then I've got another frustrating round of disorientation as the registration staff check through their files and find they have no record of me.  Then I go back to my hotel room and sleep some more?  No, I've got to find my editor, first.  

It took me two miles to get to the convention center, by the way.  I need more coffee.

The cage

Found out what "the cage" is - a place to cash in chips - and that I can't hock stuff at the counter but I have 
to go to one of the pawn shops on the strip.  #protipsalaac14 #alaac14 #alaat

So What's Up With Las Vegas? The Las Vegas Walking Edition, part 2

Got into Vegas yesterday afternoon, just in time to experience heat and light like never before - and I live in Florida, aptly named The Sunshine State.

As soon as I walked through the doors of Circus-Circus, I knew it was going to be everything I had read in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and more!  The front of the room had little room for standing around, as slot machines blinked and beckoned in an endless ocean.  I slung a bag on each shoulder and lumbered to the nearest line that looked like a check-in for the hotel.  For once when I sniffed the air I didn't smell arid, baking concrete - I smelled cigarette smoke from years and years ago that had permeated the wall-to-wall carpeting, in the days when you could still smoke in most establishments. No amount of carpet-cleaning was going to get that smell out, I decided, and reminisced about the days when I used to smoke.  Within 5 minutes I was in front of a clerk who looked at me suspiciously before asking me to repeat myself. "Manor Motor Lodge - I'm here to check in," I explained.  "Honey, this is the line for joining the Circus Players Club."  She pointed to a poster on the wall next to the desk that offered information on how you could play slot machines and get "comps" like a free room discount, 2-for-1 chicken wings, and things like t-shirts and beach towels.  After asking where I go to check-in, her suspicious look changed to pity as she saw I was close to heat exhaustion.  "You're going to have to go all the way to the back," and she pointed straight ahead and behind me.  "Just keep going and you'll see signs."

Breathing in the ancient second-hand smokiness, I turned around and started the second death-march, this time in the comfort of air-conditioning.  It was loud - people shouting and slot machines - I turned down my hearing aids and kept going.  I passed the first floor of slot machines and saw that not only were the penny slots already engaged by old ladies (I'll check those out later), but there were themed slot machines for every occasion.  TV shows like True Blood were represented, as were popular movies like The Hangover.  I had taken the virtual tour of this room before leaving (and I'll link to it as soon as I find it again), so this part of the resort looked familiar.

I finally started to see signs, and an escalator ride with tourists of every shape and ethnic persuasion crowding in around me, I walked yet another mile past a gauntlet of overpriced tourist traps, to get to the check-in area - a long, slow-moving line had formed as check-in had opened a half-hour earlier, at 2pm.  At this point I cared little about the line as I was able to put my bags down, take my hat off, and finally start to calm down after my near-death experience on the lonely Circus-Circus Drive.  I watched the clerks and the tourists - they both looked harried and tired, and most of the people checking in left in a huff.  Was there something wrong?  Was I missing something?  The place looked well-appointed - molded plaster jesters smiled blankly from the tops of pillars, and large murals of circus acts decorated the wall behind the hotel desk.  People waiting in line seemed to leave placeholders while they wandered away to find a bathroom or just to get out of the boring situation of queing up.  It all looked oddly familiar, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what it reminded me of.  Small children danced around the stanchions that kept the line somewhat straight, causing them to wobble precariously.  My mom instinct clicked and I was about to lurch forward to snatch a little girl away from a falling, heavy brass pole, but it wobbled back into place and she danced off, completely unaware of the danger, as were her caregivers (apparently).

A Korean family ahead of me was having problems interpreting their map and reservation information and waved me through to the next clerk.  She was incredibly nice and I was soon given a key and a map to my room.  Why was everyone in such a state of irritation?  Was there some kind of weird vibe?  I looked at the people behind me still waiting in line - a grossly obese young man wore a foam cowboy hat with playing cards and dice etched in bronze and black, and his t-shirt had a picture of international stick figures showing people running from other stick figures in red.  The inscription said, "Warning: If running away from zombies, I will be tripping you."  I decided I hated everyone in the immediate area, and then it hit me:  This was exactly like checking into a Disney Resort, right down to the harried parents, spoiled kids, and garish decorations.  Coming out of the swinging 60's and 70's, Circus-Circus had at some point decided to adopt the Disney model of cartoonifying every aspect of their resort amenities.  I had the evidence - a game app I had downloaded on my phone before pushing off for Nevada.

This is the screenshot of the MyVegas slots app for the Disney-fied Mirage resort.  Wait, wasn't this the casino that Oceans 11-13 tried to heist?  Why does it look like an iPad app for 3rd graders?  Why would a 3rd grader want to bet on the slots?  It's kind of insidious.

Anyway, distances were misleading and I couldn't quite parse the ink line the clerk had helpfully inscribed on the map.  A helpful salesman next to the 1/2-price Vegas show counter was able to understand it, and directed me out a battery of glass doors to what looked like an underpass parking stand for taxis and shuttle buses.  "Is there a way where I don't have to go outside?" The feel of  crawling heat stroke was still haunting me, and the clerk nodded hurriedly.  "Yes," he said, "but it's going to take longer to get to your room."  I said I didn't care and he directed me to the escalators going up another level.  "When you get off, just keep walking to the back and look for the signs that say 'Manor.'"

Getting off the escalator, I walked through another gauntlet of over-priced food stands and tourist tchotchke kiosks.  I knew I was going to be beholden to some of these stands for food in the morning - I was almost done with my bag of Probiotic Boost Blend trailmix that had quelled my hunger up until now.  I walked past the Adventuredome, an indoors amusement park featuring El Loco, a coaster that boasted a 90-degree drop and G-force pulls.  My usual enthusiasm for such strange locales was buffered by the overload of stimuli and people.  I hurried past and kept on, struggling with my bags and hoping for an end to the walking.

Finally, I came up to a people mover like at airports - I was able to put my bags down and sigh with relief.  The only sound now was the repetitive friendly-female voice welcoming me to Circus-Circus resort and reminding me of the many amenities.  Coasting along, I looked to my right and saw one of three swimming pools at the resort, filled with clamoring children and adults relaxing off to the side in lounge chairs covered with red and white-striped circus-style canopies.  It looked inviting, but I was past caring about anything except getting to my room.  Would this walking trip ever end?  I wish I had had the wits about me to use Map My Walk to find out how the hell long this whole twisted trudge had been.

After getting off the people mover and down another escalator, I could see the first of the Manor Motor Lodge buildings and hoped to God this was the building where my room was.  I stepped briefly back into the world of heat and light and scuttled through the glass door.  To my right were stairs but I was not walking up any stairs at this point, so I asked the closest cleaning lady where the elevator was and headed towards it.  I figured the walking was fine as long as I didn't have to do any walking up anything.  Stepping off the elevator it was another quarter mile to my hotel room, and for once the key card worked on the first try and I was inside my room, where I finish writing this post.  It's a nice room and I managed to get some of my clothes hung up before laying down to watch cable for a few minutes.  Until I woke up at 6am this morning.

I missed Whisk(e)y Wednesday and my apologies to the librarians who organized it - I really wanted to see the Irish pub in the New York New York resort and meet my fellow ALA colleagues.  Well, tonight, then - I go on the ALA Vegas All-Conference Pre-Party club crawl with the ALA Think Tankers.  I just visited the Facebook page and noticed that the link to the Eventbrite event was taken down - so, sorry stalkers, you'll have to find me some other way.  Anyway, I'm hoping that it's more fun than Circus-Circus.  See you later!

So What's Up With Las Vegas? The Las Vegas Walking Edition, part 1

So, I got into Las Vegas and lugged my two over-packed cases to the bus stop and, using Google Maps I saw that I would have to walk 11 minutes to get to Circus-Circus from the Las Vegas Hotel/Convention Center 108 bus stop.  Eleven minutes?  I can do that!  Only, it was 11 minutes in blinding, mid-afternoon, 102-degrees, Las Vegas sunshine.  Houston was right - there is something about Las Vegas that makes everything seem closer than it is.  Eleven minutes became a death-march past empty loading docks and construction along Circus-Circus Boulevard.

About halfway I found a patch of shade next to a gated entry and stopped to put down my 50 lbs of luggage.  I realized at that point that I wasn't sweating and after TSA made me chug the contents of my water bottle at the check-in point or throw it away, I was too spooked to refill my bottle even after disembarking at my destination.  This was definitely bad news.  I had a half-mile more to go, and while I could see the concrete big top of Circus-Circus in front of me, I knew it was a trick of the heat - I still had 5.5 minutes to go and I wasn't sure if I was going to make it.  I removed my hat, hoping that the hot, stiff breeze flowing down the boulevard would give me at the least the illusion of cooling; no such luck.  I looked to my left and saw a newspaper box; each compartment had a beautiful, naked woman of every ethnic persuasion on the cover of a booklet; scattered on the ground were business cards advertising escorts in equal states of undress.  The private parts were covered with a spade or a heart - haha, because women are like playing cards!

The only person I saw was a young man in a red t-shirt from neighboring The Riviera, who had slipped through some door to throw a bag of garbage away; I noticed he didn't stay very long because before I could ask for some water he had quickly disappeared back into the bowels of The Riviera.  Steeling myself for the last leg of the "walk" I shouldered my enormous bags (what the hell had I packed, anyway, bricks?!) and lurched back into the white-hot light.

I was starting to get light-headed - I had forgotten that I was prone to heat exhaustion, which made me ineligible for most jobs in Florida that required outside labor - and was wondering if whoever found me prostrate would call an ambulance or just rifle my bags for the laptop and wallet before taking off.  Circus-Circus came into closer view and I saw people crossing the intersection and cars waiting impatiently at stop lights.  I was almost there!  At least, if I collapsed before crossing, some tourist might take pity on me and call 911 before rifling my bags and person.

Finally, finally, I made it to the door, but stopped briefly to take my hat off again and straighten myself before entering.  I don't care how close to passing-out I am, I WILL look presentable when entering a high-class resort like Circus-Circus.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

From the Schedule and Beyond: Highlights from #alaac14 (continues) (now with 15% more hyperlinks)

So I posted a couple of days about about The Library Games, and event which takes place on June 30th, and thought I'd mention a couple of other cool things that are happening before the weekend.

CraftCon, hosted by Kate, is an event listed in the  Networking Uncommons area, so it may get overlooked if you don't look at the schedule.  It starts at 2:30pm on Friday, June 27th, and runs at various times throughout the weekend.  Bring your own crafts, bring crafts to share, show off projects, or just come hang out with a bunch of chill library peoples.  I'll be Ustreaming the start of the CraftCon on the Ustream channel, before hunkering down to do some subversive cross-stitching until my next session.

ALA Play, hosted by the Games and Gaming Round Table and Graphic Novels and Comic Books groups is listed in the ALA scheduler.  This promises to be a fun event and a great way to unwind after the opening sessions on Friday, June 27th and runs from 7:30pm-10pm at Caesar's Palace.  The theme is Welcome to Nightvale - interesting!

Keep checking back as I post more updates - trying to decide if I should post the ALA party map...

Your ALA Conference & You!

Because it's all about you!  Saw this in the FB feed this morning and thought I'd share:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Broadcast schedule on Ustream, so far

So here are two events I'll be live-streaming from Las Vegas on the Ustream channel, ALA 2014 Las Vegas, Baby! Both of them are on Friday, and I'm hoping to add to these soon, so keep checking back!  If I remember correctly, you can sign up for email alerts when the channel is live.

Uncommons: CraftCon Friday June 27th at 2:30pm
I'll be bugging people at the Uncommons area throughout the conference, but this will be covering the CraftCon event that starts on Friday

#alaac14 Opening of Exhibit Floor Friday June 27 at 5:15pm
This is where I get really excited and jump around, talking to exhibitors and gathering the best swag when it opens on Friday afternoon.

Two Days to GO!!!

I can't believe it's almost time to go to ALA!  What a trip it's been to work on this blog, get funding to go the conference, and now work as a stringer for American Libraries!  Feeling very lucky and very grateful to all the folks who helped make it happen.  Hope to see many of you in Las Vegas, but if you can't make it please subscribe to the UStream feed and keep up-to-date with activities from the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center. I'll also be blogging here, tweeting, and facebooking.

I think is also doing some broadcasting, but they've been a little opaque about where and when they are doing this.  When I can't go to conferences I still love watching live-feeds or reading live-blogs about them, and hope those of you who keep up with Zen and Loaning will get as much enjoyment out of viewing it as much as I will in producing it for you.

Friday, June 20, 2014

From the Schedule and Beyond: Highlights at #alaac14

Over the next couple of days I'm going to highlight events that might otherwise get looked over when planning schedules using the ALA scheduler.

The first of the events I want to highlight is The Library Games, and below is a description of the events happening.  I've added the description from the Facebook event site but it will be a spectator sport of watching teams of librarians play games in a winner-take-all Hunger Games style event (without the blood and violence, natch).  This takes place on Monday, June 30th, from 5:30pm to 7:30pm:

First there were the Olympic Games, then the Hunger Games became all the rage. Combine the two and you get The Library Games! Four brave teams of librarians competing in several fast-paced, cut-throat events to take home the trophy and be crowned the champions of libraryland. Audience participation and voting will be crucial to the outcome, so make sure you are there to witness history in the making. 

Round 1: Lip Sync for Your LIfe -- one song/competitor (2.30 second clips)

Round 2: Flanneldecks Showdown -- large felt board, 25 random felt pieces, 2 minutes to create and tell a story on an unknown theme.

Round 3: Book Talk for your Life -- one book/competitor (competitors will be given a list of possible books they should be prepared to book talk)

Round 4: Battledecks -- four competitiors; 3 minute slide decks

Round 5: Trivia Challenge or an @midnight style type of event (TBD)

Between two of the rounds, 4 random people will be chosen from the audience to demonstrate Cards Against Librarianship.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Reading material for the flight

So, I swear, this copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was messed-up when I checked it out of my library to re-read before the conference.  But, yeah, I'm probably going to have to replace it by the time it's traveled from here to Vegas and back again.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Zen lesson for the day: Follow the rule of law

So, I got a traffic violation for doing a California stop through a stop sign yesterday - I had no plausible reason for doing it - the police officer even asked me if there was an emergency. I didn't have a good explanation other than it was habit for me, so he gave me a huge-ass ticket.

I was mad about it for about an hour afterwards, but when I got home and hit the comfy chair I had a chance to think on it, and realized that it was my responsibility to follow the laws as they are laid out for motor vehicles. There are a lot of pedestrians near that intersection - it is on a back road, though, so I think nothing of blowing through through the stop sign as I am turning into the Publix parking lot, which is right next to it. The cop was waiting across the street and had me dead to rights.

 So why do I consider this a Zen lesson? Because of something my precepts teacher, Thom Pastor, said about the precepts; know when to keep the precepts and when to break them. This is important, because I believe it is a fundamental philosophy in Buddhism. Buddhists may seem wishy-washy and opportunistic because of this, but really, it's because we are highly adaptable. So, "know when to keep the precepts" I think it means that we have sets of rules that we follow that benefit all beings - don't kill, don't get so drunk you do things that are harmful to yourself or others, and three others that I can't recall because I'm pulling this out of my butt (and welcome to my world). "Know when to break them" is the fail-safe we have for contingencies where not following the rules ultimately benefits all beings; if I had been blasting through the stop sign because I had a pregnant woman in the throes of labor who needed to get to a hospital, it might be considered understandable for me to break the law.

But there was no emergency; I was not helping to shepherd new life into the world. The cop, like I said, even asked me if there was an emergency. So, I broke the law when it was not of benefit to anyone, and may have endangered some pedestrian's life in the process. Moral? Follow the rule of law.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Return of "So What's Up With Las Vegas?"

My wonderful friend, Houston, agreed to let me capture his soul - wait, no, that's not it - his ruminations and wisdom about Las Vegas. He provides some pretty awesome tips for bars and places to tourist that are off the beaten path. He knows this stuff because he is omniscient, but also because he does some kind of professional videographer type stuff in Vegas every year. I recommend watching both of these videos because I screwed up on the first one and the second one has information that the first one doesn't.

What to pack for Vegas?

I've decided that I will take my medium LL Bean suitcase to check-in on the plane, and carry-on my Jansport computer bag with the heavy laptop and various cords and whatnot.  I'll do most of my blogging on the phone, but the laptop will help with editing and transferring any video or audio.

For clothes, I'm taking mostly skirts that won't wrinkle easily and are light - I have a TravelSmith skirt that I got at Junior League a few years' back that will fit the bill, and my beloved Athleta Whatever skort (if it were legal to marry an article of clothing, I would marry this skirt, that's how much I love it).  I'm allowing myself at least two nerdy t-shirts, and it's going to be hard to choose because they're all so nerdy and wonderful, but mostly I'll take my two Lacoste polos, a Hawaiian shirt, and a couple of American Apparel t-shirts because they look semi-professional when worn with a business-type skirt.

And, of course, my bathing suits.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Two Weeks to Go!!!!

At this point, I seem to be the only person in my library who is outwardly excited about going to ALA.  I mean, everyone is excited for me that I'm going, but the librarians who are actually going to Las Vegas are all "meh" about it.  Maybe they just hide it better than I do?  I don't care!  I'm excited and I don't care who knows it!

Two more weeks, and I'm getting nervous.  The reality of my role in this is becoming more real - I'm blogging for American Libraries, my first legit blogging gig.  I've got big plans (and I'll have to share my technology situation in another post), but will it all come together?  Who knows?  Will the wifi work in the convention center?  Who knows?  Will I have a chance to go swimming in the Circus Circus pool?  Who knows?!  Good lord, I'm a mess!

Hey, but one bright spot is that I get to talk to my wonderful friend, Houston, about his experiences in Las Vegas, in a re-boot of the "So What's Up With Las Vegas?" feature of this blog, happening tomorrow.  I might U-stream it.  If you haven't already, subscribe to my Ustream - my handle is g8rgrrl, or do a search for #alaac14 and you should find it.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Housing Update

Well, it totally throws off my blogging about the Zen center, but after agonizing over it this afternoon I decided to stay somewhere closer to the convention center.  It seems like all the cool librarians are staying at The Quad, but I ended up getting a pretty awesome deal at Circus Circus.  A vague memory of reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as a wee lass of eighteen reminded me that Circus Circus is featured in the book.

What Hunter S. Thompson and his lawyer probably stumbled into, circa 1971
So, I'm still going to visit the center and pay my respects to my precepts teacher, and sit with the Sangha, if they're practicing, but staying at the Zen center itself is a non-starter.  Oh well.  But, the Zen center doesn't have a ROLLER COASTER or a 25-ride THEME PARK, does it?!  I thought not. Yeah, Circus Circus was made for me.  Party at my house!

Transportation in Vegas for me

Now, this is just for me - I've posted about general Vegas transportation options here, but this is just my own muddled attempt at transportation.  Do you want to know how long it's going to take me to get from the Zen center to the convention center?  An hour.  Each way.  I'm thinking my idea of living on the cheap in Vegas may have not been such a great idea.  And it might be too late to make a reservation, haha.  Oops.

Exhibitor Interactive Map

Have you seen this?  Oh my gosh, this is going to be make navigating the swag - I mean, exhibitor booths - so much easier!  

Email Roundup for Monday, June 9, 2014

Getting a lot more notices from the various roundtables I subscribe to, including New Member Round Table (which, if you haven't joined, has been priceless in terms of information for newbies like myself).  ALA 2014 is the big topic of conversation here, so I'm going to start summarizing the notices I get regarding the round tables and their offerings for the conference:

Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) posted their schedule of meetings at ALA 2014

New Members Round Table sent out a notice that ANMIG will have a chat forum on navigating ALA 2014 on June 16th from 2-3pm EST.  Please be mindful that you need to be registered for both ALA Connect and the ANMIG (ALCTS New Member Interest Group, in case you were wondering) in order to participate.

OIF blog reports that there will be a Banned Books Week booth at ALA 2014 where you can read from your favorite banned book (BYOB is suggested) on either Saturday or Sunday from 9-5pm, which will be recorded and then put on the official Banned Books Week YouTube Channel and provides a link where you can beat the rush and register for this project early.  I plan on reading from The Catcher in the Rye, one of my favorite coming-of-age books in the whole world.

ASCLA is supporting some Exclusive and Valuable Programs at ALA 2014 which you can view here.

UPDATE:  ACRL has two newb sessions:

ACRL 101 - June 17
Start Time:          06/17/2014 12:00 PM Central
Duration:             01:00 hour
Access: Anyone who has the URL for the meeting can enter the room
Passcode Protection:     No

ACRL 101 - June 19          
Start Time:          05/19/2014 12:00 PM Central
Duration:             01:00 hour
Access: Anyone who has the URL for the meeting can enter the room

Passcode Protection:     No

Friday, June 6, 2014

Your Unofficial Guide to Fun at #alaac14

This might be considered a don't...
Haha, actually it's an article on INALJ today entitled, "Your Unofficial Guide to Socializing at the ALA Annual Conference 2014."  But "socializing" equals fun, right?  It's a great list of every social function on the ALA Schedule, where and when it's happening.  Check it out - I know which functions I'll be attending, how about you?

Also, this article also links to a handy-dandy do's and don'ts guide for ALA specifically geared for #alaac14. I was planning on walking around in my bathing suit the whole time, but the guide suggests that I do bring a sweater!  And don't forget to keep rockin' out!

One last thing, the do's guide suggests that if you Tweet you can meet your followers, but also don't forget to use #alaac14 so people can find you!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New Member Round Table's Mentoring Program for First-time ALA Attendees

Some will inevitably need a hand to hold - or an arm to hold you up, in the case of an after-party, but there is a way to have that presence should you find yourself alone and agog at ALA 2014.  The New Member Round Table has a Conference Mentoring Program, and I think this could be a real winner for those who are going to ALA for the first time and specifically want to network.

Here is more of the information from the email I got earlier today:

The NMRT Mentoring Committee will pair up "newbie conference attendees" with "seasoned vets" as part of our Conference Mentoring program. As a ground rule you must be attending the conference for at least 3 days; and it is recommended you plan to attend the mentoring social Friday June 27th from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm at Caesar’s Palace hotel in the Sorrento room. You should plan to meet with each other two  times during the conference.  Membership in ALA is required, and NMRT membership is encouraged.
Applications are due June 6 with the goal of notifying the matching pairs by the week of June 16. For further information and to apply, visit:

Hope this helps someone out there!

ALA Pinterest boards.

ALA is in Vegas! is the name of the Pinterest board where my first blog post for American Libraries has been linked!  Hooray!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Transportation options for Vegas during #alaac14

So, you're in Las Vegas, Sin City, the land of the bright lights, and other names I could make up for this bustling town - now what?  Transportation is going to be a big question for a lot of folks so here is a handy guide to links and resources for getting to and from and around the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Vegas dot com has a lot of information about getting around Las Vegas, and I just love Trip Advisor because they seem to have good reviewers and lot of excellent tips (if you're a Yelp-er, as well, there's also that!  I especially enjoyed the Yelp reviews about The Deuce, as pictured above, and I'll have to save the discussion thread entitled, "why does everyone hate the monorail?").

Trip Advisor also has a lot of great information about the RTC bus system in town and I'm planning on getting the 30-day pass and doing most of my traveling via bus as I have to shuttle a little further than most folks.

So, what about the monorail?  And why does everyone hate it?  Seems to be that it is only used by tourists and convention goers, which makes sense as the main action is on the Strip, right? ALA Annual Conference Attendees get reduced rates here.

Should also add a link to an article about the shuttle system that runs behind the strip, so if you're decidedly anti-capitalist about the monorail, even with the ALA-subsidized prices, this might just be the option for you although the map they have posted looks a little limited.  Still, it seems like a cool, tourist-y thing to do!

I'll update if I come across any other cheap and/or interesting transportation options in Las Vegas, but in the meantime - did I miss anything?

NOTE:  Thanks to commenter Mary, who reminded me that there is a page on the ALA website that gives you all the transportation information, including how to get the reduced price tickets (there is no promo code, just click through to get the reduced price)

Okabashis, summer 2014

Looks like it's time to send my Okabashis back to Buford, GA, where Okabashis are born and go to die.  This pair of Eurotrash (actually, Eurostyle) ones have been my favorites, and I might go with another pair for the trip to Vegas. Wear them with Bermuda shorts and black or plaid socks, as has been my habit in years past.

They don't throw the old Okabashis on a landfill - they ground them up and turn them into new shoes!  Isn't that amazing?!

You can learn more about this on their website.

New Issue of American Libraries out - Las Vegas Annual issue!

It has an interview with Stan Lee!  The great thing about the online version of American Libraries is that you it's one of those interactive e-magazine thingies so you can flip through the magazine on your iPad or your desktop.  I am going to pour over this issue and will update later with any insights - see you soon!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

One month to go! #alaac14

Okay, let's try this again - I just deleted the first post, so now I have to rewrite the whole darn thing - how do I manage to do these things?  It is a mystery.  The Google Hangout last night went well, if not a little disorganized on my part, and I definitely learned what NOT to do with hangouts, like try to pause the broadcast, which essentially ended the scheduled one I had been advertising for about a week.  So I had to create another hangout on the fly, got the time wrong, and started later than intended.  I'm sure I lost a lot of potential views because of that, but all I can do is try again with another hangout.  I think what I will do is synthesize the information that folks generously gave during this last one and then present the information at the next one.  Or I'll just post it on the blog.

Hey, and a big shout-out to those who attended and generously supplied their time and expertise to the topic of attending a huge conference like #alaac14.   I am truly appreciative of the people involved in building community online and in person, and it encourages me to keep on keeping on.

Will have to post on some of the activities outside of the scheduled events.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Today I put out our flag for Memorial Day - yes,  I am a super-duper patriot besides being a most excellent librarian.  I'm thinking about my dad and my first Zen teacher, Russ, who both fought in WWII in the Pacific and in France, respectively.  Both came back artists - after the war my dad immediately headed to NYC and attended NYU on the GI bill, taking courses in photography.  Russ went into the war a math major in St. Louis and came back an art historian and artist.  I am proud and honored to have had the gift of knowing both of them.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cool T-shirt makes me want more!

I got this fan art t-shirt that has Totoro dressed as the Buddha and holding an umbrella - it's very kawaii and as I was wearing it yesterday I had the sudden urge to buy another one, even though I just got this one and I would pay almost twice the original price.  But I stopped myself and thought, "why would I want to buy another of the same kind of t-shirt?"  It didn't make sense until I thought about how easily we fall into grasping, wanting, needing when we don't expect it.  So, I've been thinking a lot about desire and how that spirals into neediness and greed.  So what do you do?  We live in a world where we're constantly bombarded by illusory images of money and power and the things it acquires, and it's hard to turn those messages off, no matter how destructive we know them to be ultimately.  Solution?  Not sure, but it has something to do with NOT trying to turn off the messages that we're forced to cognate - cognition is thought, so being with this thought of "want-to-have" is like giving it all the energy it needs to hamper your life and possibly deplete your wallet.  But what if we acknowledge it as a thought, and then move on?  This is what we're taught in Zen Buddhism when meditating - any thoughts go in an out and we just observe them and keep going without attaching to this or that notion.  This is a great technique for when you're not meditating, as well, so when I was able to back up from the thought of "want-to-have" I saw that it was just thinking and was able to let it go.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

ALA Mobile Scheduler is the bomb

You'll remember when I discovered the ALA Scheduler for Annual and immediately over-booked myself 5 times over.  Well, I was able to figure out how to add the ALA scheduler to my phone, and now I can access all the events and keeps track of all the events I'm attending.  You will see that it is fairly complete with a button to access all the sessions or just the items you signed up for. It has information about the Uncommons, which I'm looking forward to visiting (meaning I will bother the people at the Uncommons desk) and possibly using their equipment to live stream on the exhibit floor.  This is a recommended app if you like using your phone for scheduling, which I do.  Everything is very well organized but the real test will be when I'm juggling between the scheduler, Voice Memo, Notes, Facebook, and Ustream.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Google Hangout May 26th from 9-10pm EST

I decided to do an online Google Hangout this coming Monday to get together with folks who are old and new to ALA conferences (or any conferences) to come hangout and talk about strategies for navigating such a huge event.  I've never done one of these Google Hangouts online so it'll be interesting.  Come join me!

Bird is here

Where does the sound come from when we hear it?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Woo-Hoo! I'm a stringer!

Just got the first email from George Eberhart to the people chosen to be stringers for ALA 2014.  While it looks like live-blogging might be a problem because the wifi might be poor (or nonexistent), I now know how to submit blog posts to ALA Direct's blog, The Scoop, where we'll be posting all the news and views of ALA in Las Vegas.  Really looking forward to it!  I'm hoping to still do a lot of photos and short video interviews with attendees, as well as longer, U-Streamed, events like the ALA Think Tank's pub crawl on Thursday night.  I'll work with the limitations and do the best I can!

Sweeping Zen site

If you have a favorite Zen teacher it's probably on this site!  I looked up Charlotte Joko Beck, whose book, Everyday Zen, really helped me when I first started practicing.  I'm going to set up library and Zen blog rolls, so keep an eye on this blog!  #alaac14

Also, I'm tagging everything I write with #alaac14.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Apply with confidence

Although confidence wasn't the word I was searching for earlier.  I've been practicing putting on eye makeup so I can look like a newscaster during my interviews and live feeds on ustream.  The liquid eyeliner is the hardest part, because you have to apply it in a single, even stroke.  It made me think of how Zen is like applying liquid eyeliner.  You just do it.  Zen is being in the present moment without fear or anger.  Just do it!  So you apply the liquid eyeliner without thinking good or bad, it is what it is.

And the best teaching on this I have ever received came from the woman who worked at the l'ancome counter at Dillard's - she was the person who finally showed me how to put on makeup in colors that suit me, but the big teaching was when she was telling me that the eyeliner had to be applied in one steady stroke.  "And," she continued, "if you mess up you can always do it over again."  No anger or frustration.  Just do it, and if you mess up, do it again.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Case 7: Joshu Washes the Bowl

A monk asked Zhaozhou to teach him.
Zhaozhou asked, "Have you eaten your meal?"
The monk replied, "Yes, I have."
"Then go wash your bowl", said Zhaozhou.
At that moment, the monk was enlightened.

My fascination with 3D printed dice has come to an end

As all good things must end, so does my interest in 3D printed casino dice.  The upshot?  Can't use these in a casino and a friend just told me that they are apparently very hinky about the use of cell phone cameras in the casinos anyway, so I wouldn't be able to talk to any of the dice dealers about using them while on camera.  Dang.  Well, I can decorate them with nail polish in any case and bring them along, just in case!

Love/hate the ALA 2014 Scheduler

I saw the handy-looking scheduler on the ALA Facebook page and they weren't kidding when they said "over-schedule!"  Case in point:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Finally! Video of the 3D-printed dice!

Denise Bennett makes an appearance as she explains what happened to the first set of dice that went kablooey on the MakerBot.

Dice are done

After a first NG event printing my casino dice in a 3-D printer, I was able to get video and a conversation with Denise Bennett, Engineering Librarian.  Denise just emailed to let me know the dice are done so I'm going to run down there soon before I start my day at Library West.

No Video!!!

I had this great video of the MakerBot at Marston Science Library making my set of dice, and I cannot upload it to save my life!  I am despondent!  Well, I'm going to collect the dice today at some point so I will update then with a measly photograph or two!  Dang!!!!11!!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Cheap souvenir problem solved!?

MakerBot is go!

I've got video that I'll post later since the phone app won't let me!

Cannot Believe...

...I went all the way to Marston Science Library to print out my casino dice and didn't bring my phone to take pictures!!!  Well, it will be ready about 4:00pm or so, so I'll update with pictures then!

Haha, and I was talking to one of the engineering librarians who helped me submit the model and she said, as if preciently, "I wouldn't use these in a casino or anything, because they're not the same weight."  D'OH!

Zen and Life

So, I talk a lot about my trip to Vegas and how I am totally going to run the black jack tables and what-not, but I haven't really spoken about the other half of this blog, which is my association with Zen Buddhism and The Kwan Um School of Zen.  The truth of the matter is that I'm a pretty shoddy Zen practitioner - a kasa hangs up in my office, and eventually I'll get a chance to wear it to my local sangha practice, if I can get my butt over to the sessions!  But while I meditate every day and try to live the 5 precepts (although I know when to break them an awful lot) I'm still really up in the air as far as my religious beliefs and preferences.  I'm also a Catholic, although I am very much removed from the spiritual life of Christianity.

I'm hoping that my trip to Vegas will give me a chance to live and practice with a sangha for a week, and hopefully give me some insight into where I'm going spiritually, especially where I'm going with my Zen practice.

Casino Dice and 3-D Printers

So I totally decided that I'm going to try out Marston Science Library's Makerbot 3-D printer, and decided that I am going to start practicing my dice-throwing skills with a set of 3-D printed dice.  Will update soon!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

15 best buffets in Vegas (ALA)

American Libraries Direct has an article in this week's issue regarding where to stuff oneself silly when you get to the land of never-ending shrimp cocktails and prime rib.  So it redirects to another site where it reviews 15 of the best buffets in Las Vegas, which is pretty great except for the fact that they only reviewed nine.  Did a Google Map showing the location of the all the buffets.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My first Pre-Party! The ALATT Vegas All-Conference Pre-Party, that is.

I was invited to attend a pre-party pubcrawl the night before ALA Annual begins.  I paid a whopping 42-bucks for this so it better include champagne and a limo ride!  No, I'm expecting lots of fun and chance to see many places on the strip I probably wouldn't have gone to, otherwise.

The party is being hosted by Patrick Sweeney and JP Porcaro of the American Library Association's ALA Think Tank, or ALATT.  They are busting their butts to set this up so I don't want to disappoint.  A ton of people are going to this thing so get your tickets now!

Here's the link to the facebook page for the event.  I'll be looking around for more all-inclusive parties and will post about them here!

Interactive Exhibitors Map for ALA 2014

This interactive map of all the exhibitors at ALA 2014 is a great find!  I was able to find the ALA Games and Gaming Round Table area which I'm looking forward to visiting.

Splash bag

It's summertime and you know what that means!  If you are like me you'll be looking for some watering holes to cool off soon, and you know what coming into contact with water means?  Wet electronics!  So I saw this neat little device at Walgreens today and decided I needed it for my on-the-go, information professional lifestyle.  It's even got an external audio port for headphones.

I'm now blogging from inside the splash bag - cumbersome but will work on the water slide!
This is how the camera works from inside - I feel like this phone is so protected now that I want to throw it in the toilet to test it out (haha just kidding!  I'll wait until I get home!).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cheap souvenirs

Going to ALA does not mean you have to give away precious swag as souvenirs to loved ones back home, but you also don't want to break the bank on pricey trinkets that are the warp and woof of tourism.  Save your money for the black jack table, I always say!

While I'm live blogging at the convention, there will also be posts on issues like cheap/free souvenirs, best hotel pools (haha, like they're going to let me in their pool), and some other stuff I haven't thought of yet.

Monday, May 5, 2014

So much for sleeping

Good thing I'm going to Vegas, a place like my home town in that it never sleeps!

Maybe I'm still totally stoked from finding out that I will be a stringer blogger for American Libraries for their coverage of ALA 2014 in the happiest place on earth - no, wait, that's Disney World.  Anyway, I can get to sleep to save my life tonight so I'm blogging today about what I just spent the last hour researching, mass transit in Las Vegas. 

I CANNOT believe they are charging peeps 65 dollars for a thirty day pass to the las Vegas transit system - who rides the bus for thirty days straight?!  Oh wait, that would be people with normal, everyday jobs in Las Vegas.  Still better than a car, cost-wise, but ends up costing me 4.05 each way between the convention center and the zen center!  A super friend offered to let me stay with her, but I really want to stay at the zen center.  Who needs in-room cable when you've got the Las Vegas strip?!  And the zen center looks like it has a pool , but that could just be ornamental - I'll have to see!

Plus, as always, cycling seems to be the middle path, here, as far as time spent in transit.  The longest, of course, being the bus.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Exhibits (a.k.a. Swag Central)

Totally going to blog the ribbon cutting and opening ceremonies for the ALA Exhibit hall, taking place from 5:30pm to 7:30pm on Friday.  Not only because it is a massive exhibit experience, but also because there is going to be SO MUCH LOOT!  And probably tote bags and t-shirts, I hope!

Hello! Meet ALA's newest blogger!

Yes, that's right!  I just got the good word from the editor of American Libraries Direct, George Eberhart, that I will indeed be blogging to my little heart's content at the ALA annual!  Live blogging, pool blogging, casino blogging -- every meaty blogstuff that's ready to be blogged for you, dear readers/viewers!  I can't wait!  I've got to start coming up with more blog features.  I'm supposed to look at the conference schedule and decide which things I'm going to blog - DEFINITELY blogging Stan Lee!

05/06/14- corrected to include George Eberhart's correct title, which I erroneously reported to be the editor of American Libraries, which is actually Laurie Borman.  Details, people!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Blog renamed, moved to different address

Talk about changing horses midstream - I decided that the name of the blog, because of my involvement with the Las Vegas Zen Center, will now be "Zen and Loaning in Las Vegas," instead of "Tears and Loaning in Las Vegas."  Even further away from my pun on "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" but I think this name works a lot better for the blog.  Everything I've posted so far is here and after I get this version up and running I will delete the old one.  The unfortunate thing about importing the blog is that I lost all the comments and Google + 1's so it feels like it's starting from scratch.  Oh well.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I got extra funding!

In between celebrating Earth Day in Nashville, getting my bag ransacked by TSA at the Nashville terminal (nicely ransacked, that is), and catching a day-care cold while I was there, I haven't had a chance to update on the latest about my Las Vegas trip.  The committee that funds travel requests just notified me that I'm eligible to receive over twice what I asked for.  Still staying at the Zen Center, but now I have extra monies!  Will UF libraries let me buy a lawn chair and enough fruity drinks to interview everyone I want to interview at ALA 2014?!  Stay tuned!
Day-care cold - how nostalgic!

Sunday, April 13, 2014