odds ‘n’ bods

My life is rather fuller than I’d like at the moment, particularly as my house (jointly owned with my sister) is now on the market. My stress levels are way high, my level of forgetfulness is way high, and so on. Nevermind that I’m also trying to find, with lots of wonderful assistance from my girlfriend, a new place to live.

I’d just like to point out that the leather Shorter is now 45% off. I have decided that should either the AU $ achieves parity with the US $, or the leather Shorter reaches 60% off, I will buy a second copy to use at work. The full OED remains steady at 33% off, should it reach 45% off, I will buy it. It is already a bargain but my life is too uncomfortable to consider it right now. There is a leather edition of the full OED too but I ain’t that rich…alas.

Of searches and stuff, I happened upon a link to a search engine, from last year I think, called “Search Mash“. The link is new and contains a summary of a talk on search engines (I think) by Mary Ellen Bates at a conference this week. An initial play reveals that it runs fast, has some nifty features eg start typing anywhere on the page and it replaces the current search with what you type. Also has an option to link to a site specific search from within the results. According to the notes, this is an unbranded google site. It runs sweet.

Also looking good places to see the Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis, a site of long desired to behold. There is a possibility that I may be in Finland later in the year, in which case it would be very tempting to travel further north and see if I can catch a glimpse. The time of year matters and it’s good to see folk, already have tools available for prospective watchers.

It looks like it’s been available for years, but I’ve just noticed that wordpress.com offers domain hosting. This may be a useful interim possibility for relocating my domain https://snail.ws/ (currently ably looked after by one of my best mates). One of these days I will get round, honest guv, to getting a self hosted option going and will move my blog there. Main contender at the moment is LISHost, especially as it’s a library based operation. It seems to work well and I’ve been following various blogs hosted on it over the years, nevermind LISNews itself.

looking for a word

Recently I changed feed readers and magically caught up on all outstanding posts…ie the new one has a panic button to mark all unread :) Once more I am trying to keep on top daily without getting behind or being intimidated by how far behind I am. Importantly I’m reading some of the word oriented feeds again such as the OUP blog where I came across an amusing article on absurdities in the OED. It’s a decent piece exploring some of the more obscure entries in the dictionary; one of the more amusing pieces was:

unpoetic: cf. next.
unpoetical: cf. prev.

The comments are also worth reading. Reading elsewhere I came across a rather scary book of nursery rhymes…well known nursery rhymes have been changed with the introduction of christian references. I really don’t like this sort of thing and find it somewhat offensive, and perhaps a little dishonest. Regardless of philosophy or religion, the original rhymes should be retained and not fall victim to this sort of propaganda.

Then of course there’s the joy of moving books around, instead of words.  As a few folk know, I’m about to sell my house and it will be officially on the market in the next week or two. My sister and I are joint owners and we’d each like to get our own places. Trouble is, as others have discovered, I’m having the unenviable task of moving from a house size library to an apartment size library. I can’t afford to buy a house in my area though a unit might be possible, even then we’re talking in high double figure square metres. Serious ouch! True, I have a few too many books and have already weeded a few hundred…admittedly they’re in boxes at my girlfriend’s place, hopefully I’ll take them to a second hand shop soon. I have at least a couple of thousand books; I still have dad’s 3,000 odd books though I’ll be getting rid of most of those (planning to keep 10% at most). Plus I reckon my girlfriend has at least a couple of thousand that I need to work out space for. Needless to say there’s a whole bunch of things about this move I’m not looking forward to, but it does at least mean I get to re-visit some of my books, albeit quickly as they enter the box.

words at home

While noting that the leather Shorter is even cheaper at the moment (now 40% off),  it was nice to read Michael Duffy’s piece on the continuing project devoted to the Dictionary of Sydney. The City Historian, Shirley Fitzgerald, decided after consultation, that such a project should be done digitally, rather than solely in book format. It started in digital format, has seed funding and support from various folk, and is gathering steam. While recognising the need for expert opinion, they are also keen to encourage Sydneysiders to contribute…perhaps I can squeeze in my old man‘s efforts, particularly his thesis on public housing [pdf, 7.5Mb]. As part of the Dictionary’s plans, the Sydney journal has been launched, “…a peer reviewed journal of historical writing about Sydney…”. Somehow I suspect, this is one dictionary I’ll struggle to get in leather, although given the history of parts of Sydney, I’d best be careful in what I wish for.

books for sale

Pruning for want of a better word, perhaps weeding. I am, finally, going through all my boxes of books. Most of my books are in boxes, and it has been such for several years. I live in a house full of my dad’s books, which I also love; dad passed away a few years ago. According to my sister, who has stamped each book in memory of dad, there’s about 3,000. I’m planning to keep at most, around 10% of that, and my sister will be keeping some too. Once the house is sold, we will need to dispose of the remainder. One plan is to invite all his friends over, and ask them to choose a book they’d like. The rest will no doubt end up at a second hand shop (a fair chunk are of good academic stock), of which I have a couple of possibilities in mind. I will end up in a smaller place than this, probably a unit, so book space will be tight. Consequently I am going through all my books, and weeding, as I have a few thousand too. Already managed to weed out a few hundred, out went the Hardy Boys, and old sets of encyclopedias, retained, of course, are my Biggles, and Enid Blyton, and I daresay others. These too, will end up in secondhand shops, though some may end up at the UNSW Bookfair, a place at which I’ve scored many a bargain in years gone by.

Yet, still I’m tempted to buy more. Though I have a leatherbound Shorter, I am tempted to buy another, for the office. The standard Shorter is available for approx $120 via Amazon (locally it’s $250) whereas the leather is approx $240 via Amazon (locally it’s $825). At around a difference of $120 (+pp), it remains very tempting just to get a second leatherbound edition. One day I hope to buy the full OED and I’ve noticed on Amazon US that it’s anywhere between 32-40% off of late, in fact, I don’t think I’ve seen it full price, similarly the Shorter. Current price for the full OED is approx $717 via Amazon (locally it’s $2,500). On Amazon, the full OED is currently 33% off, though I’m sure it hit 40% off a week or two back. Even at full price, it’s much, much cheaper to buy it from the US Amazon than locally. I do support my local bookshops where I can, but the price differences are too huge on these. They’re so expensive that I wouldn’t consider buying them at all locally. Even buying direct from the UK is cheaper than buying them in Oz, where the leather Shorter is available for approx $387 via Amazon UK (direct from OUP UK, it’s approx $544) and the full OED is approx $1,630 via Amazon (direct from OUP UK is the same). Hmmm…I didn’t actually mean to end up doing a price comparison between Oz, the UK, and the US on the OED but those price differentials are fascinating. Playing into that of course are the sizes of the respective markets, not to mention exchange rates (which are great for buying overseas at the moment), but still the price in Oz is well, just a wee bit high.

I had planned to spend a sentence on my OED fetish and move on to another book I’m interested in, which I spotted in a local bookshop this evening. That is, BibliOdyssey, and it’s gleanings from the blog of the same name. Essentially a collection of images, found online, and occasional text ie a printed version of the blog. It’s smaller than I anticipated but a nice little book nonetheless. As for the price, which is what I’d done my initial cross country comparison on, try these (all amounts, as with the OED, are converted to an Oz dollar equivalent): Oz: $60, UK: $31, US: $25.

scraps of paper; scrawl

Maps, a little text, odd browsing here and there; dipping in for a bit then shelving. It has been said, indeed it must be said, that I have something of a book fetish. Not just books to read, but so too a desire for books as objects; having nice looking books on the shelf. A leather bound Shorter, rather than the standard, leather bound and rice paper pages for Lord of the Rings, nevermind fascinating books that I cannot read. Some things endlessly fascinating, some things instantly dismissed, “not my cup of tea”. I like maps, I don’t know why I like maps but I do, especially olde worlde (the extra e is part of the attraction) with ornate framings. As part of the packing of my things (house is about to hit the market), I moved a couple of old canvas maps that hung on the wall at my primary school. I’d rescued them from the bin, but have yet to display them, or even have the requiste wall space to do so. One day perhaps. My girlfriend sent me a reference to a new book on maps from the NLA. Maps are an essential part of my existence: finding my way, losing my way, appreciating different ways, discovering new directions. Don Watson has a new book out, which is a map of sorts, of his journey in America and his exploration of the american psyche. It felt nice in the hand, to touch, to browse. Books on a shelf, the book in front of you, to the side, underneath, stacked on top. A hand, a mind…reaching.

book meme

Someone actually tagged me on a meme, at least it’s a book based one :)


  1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pgs.)
  2. Open the book to page 123
  3. Find the fifth sentence
  4. Post the next three sentences
  5. Tag five people

Others have participated and I am destined to follow the format of inn0vate, whose nearest book to hand was a dictionary. Thus we have an excerpt for your reading pleasure from:

The Concise Oxford Dictionary 6th Ed (OUP, 1976) ISBN 0198611218

brigadier n. ~(-general), officer commanding a brigade, (titular rank granted to) staff officer of similar standing, above, colonel and below major-general. [F; see prec., -IER]

brigalow (-o) n. (Austral.) One of various acacia trees. [Aboriginal]

brigand n. Member of robber band living by pillage and ransom; hence or cogn. ~AGE (3), ~ISM (2), ~RY (5), ns., ~ISH a. [ME f. OF, f. It. brigante (brigare; see BRIGADE)]

This in turn reminds me of a certain conundrum, I have the recently published 6th Ed of the Shorter Oxford, however it dwells in a lovely spot on my bookcase at home in the loungeroom. It’s not at work where I’m most likely to use a dictionary on a day to day basis. On the other hand I don’t want to leave it work when I go home. The full OED is available on CD, however I gather it requires special software to run. What would be really cool is a version that runs on Linux, then I could install it on my eee. That would be way cool; the full OED to take with me everywhere.

exploring the archive

Been slowly catching up on work stuff, personal stuff and blog stuff. Somehow or other I got distracted last night in the blog stuff by ending up at a spot, I think via a comment on Walt Crawford’s blog, that mentioned an article on the idea of the digital archive as genre. It sort of piqued my interest, not sure yet where this will lead but the article sounds interesting. The company I work for does a nice line in digital archives and they’re an area I always feel I’m under utilising. Plus I’m curious as to how others approach the idea of such archives, I’m well aware of their value for research, particularly as they reduce the need to fly all over the world to view significant texts. Personally, I would happily fly all over the world doing such :-) My partner has managed to source the article in question, as well as the responses plus the odd other paper that may be of interest. A preliminary scan suggests there is much to ponder and I look forward to reading it and associated pieces. Hopefully I’ll be able to comment further at a later date.

conferencing and stuff

I’ve had a couple of bits of nice news in the last couple of months. I had been part of a group paper for VALA, unfortunately whether it be my inability to write a paper collaboratively or simply continuing personal dramas, I failed to contribute to it. Actually it’s not necessarily an inability to collaborate, it could just be that I see deadlines as fluid and flexible whereas everyone else meets them :-) While I’m sad that I let folk down, I’m also glad that they got the paper done without me. I’ve also been keen to get my name taken off the paper and requested it a couple of times. Got a very nice email in the last week asking if I’d be ok with my name being removed given my lack of contribution – the person in question had missed my emails requesting the same and I’m guessing was rather relieved when I happily responded that removing my name would be fine :-) In other news, I’ve been asked to chair a session at Beyond the Hype in a couple of weeks. That at least I can do, and do on time, and as I know all 3 folk in my session, should be able to mostly adlib it. Well, I’ll be reading up on all 3 papers and people anyway because adlibbing works best for me, when I have a good foundation of knowledge. Preparation does wonders and it means if my muse fails on the day, I have a fallback position.

“deliberately barren”

The annual Ernie awards (2007 being the 15th year) were announced last night, and emerging from a strong field, was the eventual winner, Senator Bill Heffernan, for his comment that Julia Gillard was unfit for leadership as she was “deliberately barren“. The Ernies, while mostly going to blokes, have on occasion gone to women too, for comments unhelpful to the sisterhood, such as Blanche D’Alpuget for saying “I do” with Bob Hawke.

After 15 years, they’ve compiled some of the best examples into a book, The Ernies Book: 1000 terrible things Australian men have said about women, that goes on sale this month. As part of the launch the authors are participating in a debate at Gleebooks on 21 Nov, on the age old topic: “Are Australian men still male chauvinist pigs?” :-)