IMPORTANT: Syracreamsicle Recall Due to Salmonella Concerns

(FEAR NOT! THIS IS COMPLETELY FABRICATED FOR PURPOSES OF A BLOGGING COURSE AND, CONTRARY TO THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS, PLEASE DO NOT RE-BLOG!)

It has just come to our attention that a recent batch of Syracreamsicle ice cream may be unsafe for consumption, due to salmonella concerns. We have put into effect an immediate recall, so the flavor will not be available for the next week or so. Should you still see the product on the shelf, DO NOT purchase it.

If you have already purchased and consumed any of the product, please refer to the MedlinePlus article on salmonella (here) and watch for symptoms. Children, the elderly, and people with chronic conditions are of greatest concern and should contact their healthcare providers for further instruction. Most cases, however, will result in a few days of discomfort and go away naturally. Antibiotics are available, otherwise. If you are concerned and uncertain about what you should do, contact your doctor.

At this point, we are uncertain of the origin of the issue. Using quality, safe ingredients in our ice cream is our highest priority, and we train our staff in proper food preparation and handling practices. Rest assured that your concerns are ours as well, and when we have come to the root of the issue that information will be shared.

Please check back to the blog for updates on this situation, including the time at which Syracreamsicle may once again be safely purchased. In the meantime, we at Salt City Ice Cream urge you to re-blog this post in order to spread the word. We want our customers to be well-informed, safe, healthy, and happy.

If you have any comments or concerns and would like to speak to an employee at Salt City Ice Cream, please call:

1-XXX-XXX-XXXX

We apologize for this upset; it is as unsettling to us as it is to you. We will be taking steps to rectify the issue and ensure that it is never repeated. Thank you for your patience and understanding. 

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Gaming (and Reading Involved Therein): From SNES to Now

This week, I bring to you an interview with the blog mistress Kat of I Like to Think I’m Funny on the current state of gaming. Her responses to my questions follow, covering her start as a gamer, her feelings on console wars, and the once-and-for-all dismissal of FarmVille as even remotely comparable to Harvest Moon.

But I haven’t yet addressed her most interesting response, as far as this blog is concerned. Kat says that the shift from graphic-heavy gameplay, after ages of text-based RPGs and puzzle games, doesn’t bother her. She has a really good point. I’m thinking specifically of Valkyria Chronicles (the first one – nobody talk to me about that obnoxious Avan kid) when I say that today’s games have the potential to be BEAUTIFUL.

Best game I’ve played in ages, by the way…

Still, when I was growing up my mother was okay with me gaming because she could see that all of the dialogue had really archaic (and thus, big) words. It was like reading, with some dragons and people with weird hair thrown in. Now, not so much. I wonder, is that a bad thing for kids?

And I’m not even talking about the heavy violence in games now: it doesn’t matter what the text was traded FOR, just that it was traded… or so I feel. What do you think? Were games ever a link to reading for kids, or am I nuts? What about now?

Hooking Readers: Come into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly

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(For the purposes of this exercise, I’m operating as if I have a blog on young adult literature. Not just for me, either, but a blog meant to represent the teen room of a public library. This is most appropriate for me, and suits my reasons for taking this course.)

In order to get patrons reading this blog – and coming back again and again – I’d like to focus on interactivity between readers and the library (i.e., me). But in order to encourage that sort of back-and-forth, I need to make sure everyone is comfortable.

Code of Conduct

I’ve just composed a VERY brief commenting policy, here. It can also be reached at any time from the top left of the page. I kept it short and sweet because readers are going to be primarily teenaged, but I think it does the job. Readers will be encouraged to read the policy before commenting. It basically tells them not to be rude, but to definitely be vocal otherwise, and to remember that comment moderation is nothing personal: it’s about maintaining a certain environment for this particular blog. This should do two things:

  1. Make the blog a safe place to be expressive.
  2. Give posters a policy to which to refer when their decisions are questioned.

Taken together, this should make everything run more smoothly.

Interactivity

Now that a safe space has been established, I want to take every opportunity I can to get my readers talking back. The first thought I had was a poll. Instead of the library picking book club books and then waiting for teens to sign up, the librarians could suggest five titles that are all suitable and allow readers to decide by majority vote which one of the five will be read.

I like those colors: good for summer reading!

I Say, You Say

Along the same lines of interactivity, I’d ask readers to review books they loved reading independently, and submit them to the blog. That way – with a little editing on our end, as needed – patrons could share with other teens the books that they found read-worthy and why. This helps to knit the community together AND it makes our blog more authentic: in addition to my reviews (which can only be from a librarian’s perspective, hard as I try to be cool) will be the two cents of actual teens. This sort of peer-to-peer encouragement could even increase book circulation.

Top Ten Tuesday

Remember the Broke and the Bookish blog? I wrote about their meme that invites bloggers to compose their top ten lists on book characters, authors, favorite quotes, and so on. I want to make a habit of participating in TTT on this blog, linking back to the Broke and the Bookish blog and having them link back to my top ten lists. This could increase traffic.

What’s more, I want to encourage readers to do their own top ten lists in the comments. The hope is that they’ll have something to say about my list, and something to say about the choices of others, too.

Keeping Tabs

Finally, I want to develop a rhythm with the collection development being done at the library, so that – at the beginning of each month, say – I can post on the blog about what new books are being ordered for the teen room. I can say a bit about each, give my own preferences, and then ask readers which one they are most excited to read. If there’s a really popular book being purchased, I could say that the first commenter who uses a profile to say they want to read such-and-such book, so that I can tell who it is, will have the book put on hold for them. It’s a good way to guarantee at least one response – there’s something in it for them.

Amelia Earharts’ New Transmissions

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Amelia Earhart’s distress calls may have gone unnoticed. According to this news break from CNN, dozens of radio signals are believed to have been sent by Earhart after her disappearance in 1937. These suspicions were revealed on the first day of the Earthart Search 75 conference, a gathering meant to honor Earhart and her unfinished journey.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, which runs this conference, also has plams to make an expedition to the island where Earhart is believed to have crashed. Their version of the story suggests that Earhart was off course from Howland Island, and so was forced to land on Gardner Island (uninhabited, then and now). She attempted to radio back regularly – and those would be the dismissed SOS calls – from the plane but, as the theory goes, the Electra would have been eventually taken by the sea. By the time the Navy came around looking for Earhart, there would have been no aircraft by which to recognize her landing place, and the search party would have moved on.

That’s all well and good, but on what grounds were the radio signals dismissed? Were they unclear? Assumed to be white noise? If Earhart did land safely, and was able to send distress signals over a course of days, it means that her death was not just an unfortunate accident but also a tragedy of missed opportunity. She was rescuable; we just failed to rescue her.

Your thoughts?

YA Characters: the Best Arou-ound…

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The Internet is full of opinions, and last week I gave you mine: the best characters in YA fiction. In case you’re looking for similar lists, to jump-start your summer reading or to flesh out your library collection, I’ll point you in the right direction.

The Broke and Bookish blog does this weekly meme called Top Ten Tuesday. Basically, they post a prompt for a literature-related top ten list, and anyone who wants to can particpating by making the appropriate list and posting it on their blog. This meme is largely responsible for the links coming your way.

YA Yeah Yeah‘s top picks.

Love YA Lit – There’s some love for Charlie, of Perks of Being a Wallflower, in this list!

I Swim for Oceans – This list goes from Mr. Darcy to Sirius Black. Impressive.

Kate Hart – This one is really two lists: best female AND best male characters in YA.

Lambda Literary – This one’s a top ten list specifically for best characters in LGBT books. This is perhaps the most important niche of YA books right now, so check this out.

And last of all, what happened to this list by the Atlantic Wire? Most of those are children’s books, not YA. You’d think the two genres would be clearly separate by now.

With what choices do you wholeheartedly agree? Disagree?

Five Fictional Characters You Need to Meet

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Good influences, bad influences – in my opinion, you need them both. The good ones give you a standard to uphold, something to which you can aspire. The bad ones show you the eventual downsides of all those things that look like great ideas today. When I was navigating my tumultuous teen years, I was better for having certain fictional characters sitting on my shoulder. So here’s a top-five list of people you’ll never meet, but should know all the same.

1. Albus Dumbledore

Albus Dumbledore

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live…”

Odds are, you’ve met Hogwarts’ headmaster by now but, if you haven’t, this is your wake-up call. Sure, it’s called Harry Potter, so it’s not all about Dumbledore. But this professor is impressively omnipresent, and he’s not empty-handed: he offers really good advice with all the nonchalance and frequency as anyone else might offer gum. The best part? His own record isn’t squeaky clean – as he made his own bad choices as a teen – which keeps him from moralizing or lecturing outright. Not to mention that wicked sense of humor. He’s a brilliant, insane wizard; let him impart some wisdom (and madness) into your life.

2. Molly Weasley

I told myself I wouldn’t choose two or more characters from the same book, but you’ll all just have to get over it. I can wait. Here’s a picture in the meantime:

Molly Weasley

“Not my daughter, you &!%$#!”

Poor Harry Potter, being an orphan himself and then finding out his best friend has the best mom EVER. Okay, so we see a lot of anger from Mrs. Weasley throughout the series, but would you want your children bewitching cars to fly and crashing them into violent willow trees? I didn’t think so. Molly’s ferocity comes from a place of deep love, a point that is proven over and over again throughout the books. And even with five children and a husband, Mollywobbles (haha) has room in her heart for Harry and treats him as she would a son. This means he isn’t above her ranting, but it also means she would defend and support him until her last breath.

3. Craig (Thompson)

Craig and Raina

“And what if I ended up a MISTAKE to her?”

Here’s one for the graphic novel lovers. Blankets is to some extent autobiographical, text and drawings by Craig Thompson. We follow him from his own isolation, dogged by religion and an aching desire to be a decent person, to his blossoming through love with a fellow loner. His ideas about what it might mean to be a good person, and the line society has drawn for him between right and wrong, are challenged. Craig is passionate as he is poetic, and as attuned to hidden meanings as he is to Raina’s surface beauty. He’s a perfect companion to those caught in the whirlwind that is first love.

4. Samantha Kingston

Before I Fall

“I shiver, thinking how easy it is to be totally wrong about people-to see one tiny part of them and confuse it for the whole, to see the cause and think it’s the effect or vice versa”

This little lady comes out of Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall. Samantha Kingston starts out as that girl you hated in high school – the one who thinks her good looks and popularity giver her license to walk all over everybody else to get whatever it is she can’t live without today: the perfect parking spot, a way out of an exam, someone else’s boyfriend. You know the drill. But you’ll be catching up with Sam on her last day alive. Together, you’ll relive that day over, and over, and over. Believe it or not, by the end Miss Kingston will have a lot of insight into herself, her peers, and life – why she is the way she is, and who the people she thought she knew really are. What’s important, and what isn’t worth thinking about. We could all use that fresh perspective now and again. Unlikely as it sounds, Sam will give it to you.

5. Charlie

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

In Perks of Being a Wallflower, Charlie is about to start high school, and he’s excited and nervous. He decides to start writing letters to a person he doesn’t know very well – it might as well be you – to help himself sort out his own feelings. You will follow him as he struggles to participate in his own life, to take up space in the world without making decisions that are bad for him. He looks on as his friends do drugs, have sex, and shadowcast The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Something holds him back from being himself, being a whole person, and by and by you’ll find out what that something is. In the meantime, Charlie personifies the uncertainty we all felt as teens: can we fit in as we really are? How?

Who did I miss? What characters helped you get through young adulthood? How did they help you? Leave a comment!

Wherefore Art Thou WordPress?

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Well, Juliet, names are important. They’re representative of something else, and a good one will seem interesting and be easy enough to recall when necessary. You have to make a good first impression, and that’s what’s in a name. You know, Capulet, your name’s not without its icky connotations, either – don’t go blaming everything on Montague.

But anyway, down to business. For Bill’s little cupcake shop in Syracuse, my inclination is to go descriptive. His company is not so grand that it necessarily has a recognizable brand and, of course, bills.com is already taken. Billscupcakes.com is as well, but if he hyphenates he can use bills_cup_cakes.com. This should be easy enough to remember with a little in-store publicity. The website itself can be titled just “Bill’s,” or “Bill’s Cup Cakes.” He could turn the separation of the word “cupcake” into a quirky brand thing, making the hyphens necessary for the URL into something that works for his business. If he can’t, that separation of “cupcake” is a hurdle to be jumped.

There is already a fangfilms.com, so that’s out for the film company. Instead, why not be evocative? But itsgotfangs.com is taken, too. Its_got_fangs.com is free, though, and that’s what I would choose. It says something about the quality of the films, making them sound edgy and exciting. The name itself could pull in some interest for a company that doesn’t get as much publicity as the ones who produce films for theater release. I would call the website “It’s Got Fangs” as well, and again – I would try to use the spacing in the URL to the site’s advantage. Maybe the artwork for the website could suggest full stops after each word – halting and dramatic. “It’s. Got. FANGS.” Or something like that. The hyphens are unfortunate for ease of remembering the URL, but it’s not the worst thing in the world.

For Happy Pup Doggy Daycare, let’s use 1happypup.com. With just the addition of the number, we stumble upon an available URL, and the number’s doing double-duty: it suggests that, in utilizing the website, the customer is going to make his or her pet’s life a little more pleasant. This was my second choice to minesahappypup.com, which is unfortunately taken. The website should be called “Happy Pup Doggy Day Care,” though, because at the end of the day that’s the name of the place. This could create some confusion, but using the actual business name just wouldn’t work so well as a URL.

Different Keystrokes (Oh-ho, Knee Slap)

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What do the CEO of Starbucks, John Cage, and a guy who likes hockey a lot have in common? PRECIOUS LITTLE, so they probably shouldn’t use the same platforms for their blogs.

For Mr. Moneybags I would suggest a stand-alone platform, like WordPress of the .org variety. Per his namesake, I assume he’s got the cash to throw down on the creation and maintenance of his virtual property. Plus, he’s got a brand to represent, and for that he needs the design of the blog to be original and the URL to be uncluttered.

What would John Cage do, if he were here? Probably start stacking pie plates on piano strings, but what if he needed a way to showcase that particular strain of eccentricity? Tumblr sounds like a good idea – lots of opportunity for connecting to others, and an emphasis on the visual.

And Stephan (That’s what I named hockey-guy.)? Ohhh, can I say Twitter? Stephan’s got to be able to comment fast and frequently about the game as its unfolding, and 140 characters supports a sort of impassioned brevity, and a link every now and again. But I bet sometimes he’ll want to rant, and Twitter’s no good for that… Why not link back from Twitter to a Blogger account for those interested in in-depth analyses? That way the occasional tangent does not disrupt the immediacy of the essential news items.

Phil-ogging. Ew, No. Blog-osophizing? Ugh – See Where I’m Going With This?

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There’s this book – the title of which, at this very moment, I can’t be bothered to find – that suggests that people communicate their feelings one of five (or so) different ways. It’s a relationship book. The premise is that, for example, when a non-materialistic person who shows affection through words dates someone monosyllabic but loose with his gifting money, you run into problems.

I propose a new Chinese proverb: WordPress and Tumblr, never marry.

Hmm. It sounded more profound in my head.

ANYWAY, I really do have a point. They’re both blogging sites, sure, but they come from different worlds. WordPress has one of those giant, Barnes & Noble quill pens and Tumblr is compiling a portfolio for art school. WordPress wants to stay in and have a quiet night by itself and Tumblr wants to hang out with all its friends. WordPress’ ringtone is Simon & Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock,” and Tumblr is cranking up the… what, Ke$ha? Is she over already?

Oh, but there’s a reason they have a relationship, certainly. It’s not as if WordPress isn’t into flashy stuff sometimes, or other people’s opinions. Those widgets and plug-ins? WordPress uses those to poll its friends’ opinions, or to literally run some news by them. And it’s not as if Tumblr isn’t into story-telling, it just does it differently – and it can sit down and pound out a missive in lieu of uploading a jpg any time it likes, thank you very much.

In all seriousness, they’re more alike than dissimilar. To continue my metaphor (which, I know, is barely holding together at this late stage), it really does just come down to the primary method of communication. WordPress favors text but allows for visual, interactive embellishments. I like this example. The images are interesting, but you absolutely NEED the text; the text is the whole point, and without it you can’t understand why you bothered clicking. (And I’ll have you know it took me several tries to find a blog on WordPress that used images at all – a problem that I didn’t have with Tumblr.)

For Tumblr, the writing becomes an embellishment in a sea of images. Can you imagine how overwhelming my step-brother’s band’s Tumblr would be if it were just a wall of text? As it is, you get lots of posters, album covers, and links to songs and sundry – and some textual reflections, too.)

But both sites make use of tags for content, and they both allow for connections between bloggers (Tumblr behaving as a sort of social-networking site and WordPress supporting Trackback/Pingback).

Oh, Tumblr. Oh, WordPress. Just calm down and talk it out in the morning. And for the love of Freddie Mercury, I’m not your mediator when it’s 2 in the morning. Sheesh.

Begin at the Beginning: Why Am I Taking IST400/600 – Blogging for Information Professionals?

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I’m familiar with blogging to an extent (LiveJournal was a big part of growing up, for me.), but I’ve never delved past the basics: putting text in this box, and a picture in the little profile window. I know that there are tools, and I want to learn how to use them. 

My interest is in young adult library services and I know that librarians have to meet their patrons where they are. Let’s face it: teens are on the Internet. Blogging for the library can be a good way to book-talk to teens, or to organize book clubs, to publicize events, or even to get recommendations for the collection.

So, I guess my goal is to learn all I can about how to interact better with blogging services. Writing I can do, but text on its own won’t bring teens to the library blog; I’d like to have some tricks up my sleeve.