Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Trust Me, I'm An Archivist

Unless you're Daniel Lorello, an archivist for the state of New York, that is. Mr. Lorello has been charged with the theft of multiple items from the state archives, all to pay off his utility and credit card bills. Article link here.

I'm interested to see how New York approaches trying to retrieve any items Lorello already sold. Even though buyers most likely assumed they were getting items in good faith, will they be willing to return them? Will the state reimburse them? Or will we see multiple replevin cases once particular stolen items are identified?

And speaking of replevin, the state of Maine is working through the courts to attempt to retrieve a copy of the Declaration of Independence once owned by the town of Pownalborough (now Wiscasset). Somehow the copy ended up in the possession of a nineteenth century town clerk, and was sold at an estate auction in 1994. This case resembles one in 1999 where a copy once belonging to the town of North Yarmouth was sold in similar fashion. In that case, the parties resolved their differences in early 2001. (Go here.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

MacGuyver's Archival Glossary: The Bone Folder

Admit it, fellow archivistes: before joining the club, you had no earthly idea what a bone folder was. In fact, you probably thought it was one of the following:

a. the coolest move from an old Bruce Lee movie;
b. a professional wrestler;
c. that thing in Jack Sparrow's hair (thanks for that one, Christie);
d. some kind of Dungeons & Dragons magic thingy.

So what is it really? Only the second deadliest tool in the archivist's arsenal, behind the microspatula. Maybe not as subtle and deadly efficient as the metal blade, it's still perfect for eliminating paper creases, stirring drinks, and subduing recalcitrant patrons. Works equally well as a shim or a shiv.

With all these cool tools, can the archival utility belt be far behind?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Games Before the Big Game

I will go on record right now stating that the Packers and the Patriots will meet in the Super Bowl on February 3.

Ok, picking the Patriots is not exactly taking a risk. With Rivers, Tomlinson, and Gates not at their best (and maybe not even playing, in Rivers' case), I don't see how the Chargers can mount much of a challenge. Yeah, they beat the Colts without big contributions from those three, but didn't Indy look, I dunno, distracted or something last week? Were they planning their trip to NE already, thinking about visiting Faneuil Hall or the Gardner Museum? Even though the Pats have looked mortal the past month or so, I still think they win handily: NE 31, SD 14.

The Packers, on the other hand, definitely are a risk. I didn't think they'd win 8 games this year, let alone getting this far. But they're playing at home, the forecast is very cold temps, and Eli Manning doesn't fare well in the cold. But Brett Favre is still the wild child of QBs, and he scares me every time he drops back for a pass. Still, if the Pack holds on to the ball, they'll win: GB 28, NY 17.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Meme Mine

(Title with apologies to the Beatles)

Thanks to Brave Astronaut, I've been tagged by an archives meme. More on that below; but first, some pictures I took Monday.

Yes, it snowed again on Monday, just a mere foot, nothing special. This first pic is just after I left for my walk to work, taken around 7:45 Monday morning. It had been snowing for about 30 minutes. You may be able to see the piles of snow along the road from all the previous storms. And yes, it was that dark. Although maybe not so blue.

Here it is, not ten minutes later. There was now about 2 inches on the ground. People were still driving like nothing was happening, speeding along cluelessly. The sidewalks were very slippery just then, so I'm sure the roads were a blast.

Now here it is around 1:00, during the walk home. The building is a local hospital. Only 6 or 7 inches had fallen at that point. Still snowing quite heavily. It was actually quite easy to walk through, as long as you remembered where the curbs were! I don't think this street had been plowed yet. And traffic was slower, but still surprisingly heavy. (On a side note, these "early winter" snows are quite dry and powdery, much more so than the snows I grew up with in the South. Shoveling and cleaning the car is waaayyy easier, almost like brushing sugar off the kitchen counter.)

Now on to BA's meme. The challenge was this: "Go back through your archives and post the links to your five favorite blog posts that you've written." Each one has specific instructions, listed below. So here goes...

Link 1 must be about family. I have never posted about my family, and likely never will. Except the wife, and only then in glowing terms, because she's perfect. (Hey, I know what I'm doing.)
Link 2 must be about friends. Well, I've never really posted about my friends either. Must be something about posting about people... In lieu of a 'friends' post, here is my post about SAA, where I did get to see most of my friends. Does that count?
Link 3 must be about yourself, who you are... what you're all about. Here's my very first post. Yes, quite a doozy indeed.
Link 4 must be about something you love. Hm. Just to make BA jealous, read this.
Link 5 can be about anything you choose. Everyone's favorite archival tool. Don't leave home without it.

Wow, those are some powerhouse links. Looks like I either need to become more introspective on my blog, or start dishing the dirt. Maybe I can dish some introspective dirt.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wanted: Proofreder

Just received this in the mail:


This is why our dues are going up.

Friday, January 04, 2008

January Madness

No, this post isn't about even more snow. Nor about the single-digit temps yesterday and this morning, nor even about the expected thaw coming on Sunday (what, a week in the 40s?!?).

I've been watching the BCS games this week, and I've been less than impressed. Bowl games are always a crapshoot, and I figure NCAA has gone 1-2-1 in the four games so far. USC/Illinois and Georgia/Hawaii were such duds that you wonder why anyone bothered showing up. WVU/Oklahoma was a stinker from a football perspective, but great from a beating-down-OU one. Last night's Kansas/Virginia Tech game was good, giving me hope for Monday's finale. I still can't believe that either Ohio State or LSU got into the final, but hey, what do I know? Anyway, long-suffering football widows/widowers, soon your nightmare will be over.

At least until spring training.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Netflix: don't you wish you'd thought of it? How many times since joining have you spent agonizing minutes (hours?) in a video store trying to: a) figure out what to rent, or 2) remember what you came to the store for. The answer for me is none. And admit it, Netflix is addictive, too. How many of us really care to admit just how much time we've spent adding to and re-working our queues?

All this time spent honing our home entertainment options means an increase in the quality of our choices, right? Um, not really. Sure, I go to Salon and read the annual movies of the year, paying particular interest in the notable indy movies. But over the next few years, how many of these will I watch? One, possibly two, an outside chance at three. More likely, I'll forget the list and never see any of them.

Here's my confession; or rather, along with my wife, our confession. We're addicted to TV shows. Mostly mysteries,and mostly British, and only a few well-regarded shows. Very few American shows ever really catch our attention. Why? Who knows. Maybe that whole familiarity breeding contempt thing. Maybe it's the accents. Or maybe we'd rather avoid a constant stream of shows featuring twentysomething, skeletal Barbies being presented as sexy and alluring. (I once read a quote from a woman wondering what men found sexy about such bony women; she figured the sex must be like sleeping with a coat hanger. But I digress.)

So with apologies to Bergman, Antonioni, Hitchcock, and all the others who worked so hard to craft classic fare that would entertain beyond their lifetimes, here's my list of the favorite Netflix television rentals from 2007.

Inspector Frost Mysteries. A truly great series. Jack Frost is a fiftyish copper in dreary Denton, England. He's cranky, a little dumpy, loves Indian food, and somehow manages to be a hit with the ladies. This show is rightly a classic, and also introduced us to the word "sarnie."

Midsomer Murders. Quite possibly the deadliest mystery series ever, as the people in rural Midsomer County drop like flies in every episode. There are so many things to like about this tongue-in-cheek series, especially the way everyone in a particular village carries on as though nothing is happening even as the body count rises.

Cracker. No, not the godawful Robert Pastorelli series. This is the original, with Robbie Coltrane as the deranged lunatic/psychiatrist headliner. The biggest quibble with these episodes is that the quality went down as the family-related melodrama went up.

Second Sight. A really overlooked BBC show starring Clive Owen. Owen plays a driven detective who needs to cover up the fact that he's losing his eyesight. Only a few episodes, but well worth the rental.

Black Adder. Ok, so not exactly low on the quality meter. I rate this series much higher than Rowan Atkinson's other well-known vehicle, Mr. Bean. This show got better with each series, and also starred some of my favorite actors: a pre-House Hugh Lauries, Stephen Fry, Miranda Richardson (her Queen Elizabeth is possibly the craziest character I've ever seen in a comedy), etc etc.

Father Ted. Really, really sophmoric comedy about three misfit priests stationed on an oddball island off the coast of Ireland. But really, really funny once you get used to it. Trust me: after one episode you'll be saying "What the hell?" After three, you won't be able to stop.

The Closer. The more I think about, really not a very good show. Mediocre plots, okay dialogue,and often some really drecky acting. But still a lot of fun, mostly because of Kyra Sedgwick (please eat something, K). I also get a kick out of the scenes with sidekick (one of many) Michael Paul Chan, of the late lamented show Robbery Homicide Division.

Six Feet Under. We've only watched the first season so far, but the rest are on the queue. Quirky, yes; often self-indulgent, yes. Very good, yes.

I'd also like to give a tip of the hat to Deadwood, quite possibly the worst thing I've seen on TV in some time. And I watched Skating With Celebities.

Fortunately, 2008 promises more dabblings into television's past. Next on the list are such goodies as Nero Wolfe, The Wire, Inspector Alleyn Mysteries, Rosemary & Thyme, Hamesh Macbeth, Taggart, and The Job. Not to mention ones we caught when originally aired: Monk, the "old" ABC series Murder One, and a host of Inspector Lynley Mysteries. 2008 promised to be a very good year.