Monday, September 1, 2014

September1 (for September 1)

Today the United States and Canada celebrate Labor Day (or Labour Day), while for the rest of you it's more likely just an ordinary September 1. Labor Day was established as US federal holiday in 1894 to honor the achievements of the American worker. But for all those living by the academic calendar, it’s a last gap of summer, a reward for having survived the first week or two of classes after a long vacation.

September1 is a lowest-probability typo on the Ballard list, although it’s apparently an easy enough mistake for the fingers to make. There is 1 instance of it in the OhioLINK database, and 38 in WorldCat. If you have the day off, please restrain yourself from running to your own catalog to check!

(Miners with their children at the Labor Day celebration, Silverton, Colorado, September 1940 as photographed by Russell Lee, from the Library of Congress)

Deb Kulczak

Friday, August 29, 2014

Refrenc* (for Referenc*)

Librarians are famous for their endless acronyms, but I hate to see us fall prey to the attendant lure of absurd terminology as well. There was an article posted to AUTOCAT recently about the fledgling Florida Polytechnic University and its library, which for some reason has decided to go "bookless." He added: "There are way too many buzzwords in this article, in my opinion." To me, the worst one by far is the so-called "success desk." I commented on this to a colleague who has lately grown weary of the exigencies of reference work and he responded: "It has a nicer ring than the 'failure desk.'" A friend at a local college library tells the campus has an actual "Office of Student Success." (It's probably right around the corner from the "Department of Doing Well in Class.") A coworker mentions the Syracuse City School District's newly renamed "Office of Talent Management" (formerly called "Human Resources"), which puts me in mind of a cigar-chomping letch in a 1930s motion picture studio glancing meaningly at the casting couch. I'm not quite sure what's going on here (other than the apparently innate impulse to keep "upgrading" the names of things, otherwise known as pointless euphemism), but it makes me wonder if maybe we've been watching too many American Idol-type shows of late, in addition to drinking the "self-esteem" Kool-Aid being served at most of our schools these days. And speaking of kids, lunch, and out-of-control acronyms, I think my favorite comment of all comes from a classmate of my niece's, who once wryly observed (no pun intended) that "LGBT" sounds sorta like a sandwich. (Bacon, lettuce, and tomato with Green Goddess dressing, perhaps?) All kidding aside, and with reference to OhioLINK and WorldCat, today's typo was found 29 times in the former, and over 1100 times in the latter.

(Photograph of the reference desk area inside the Pomona Public Library, ca.1900. Situated near the front entrance, the reference desk, a semi-circular wooden desk, greets visitors. A lamp, several books, a pile of paper, a filing drawer, and a stamper are neatly placed on the desk. Surrounding the room are large arches, supported by columns, allowing access to many parts of the library. At left stand a bookshelf and a shelf for card catalogs. Several desks, chairs and bookshelves can be seen in the center room. At right stands a statue of a woman wearing a toga carrying a bag of fruits. From the California Historical Society Collection, 1860-1960, and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Colletive* (for Collective*)

I once told a date that I hated having to change someone's name midstream, as it were. I said I was like a "baby duck" in that way; whatever name I "imprinted on" was the one I'd be inclined to follow forever. (He waffled on his own preferred variant, but immediately started calling me "Baby Duck" and continues to do so to this day.) For example, I have a hard time adjusting to "married names" and find myself faintly disapproving when a person of longtime nomenclature suddenly decides to take a nickname or other "alternative" moniker without a very good reason. I've known my share of flaky and/or PC pseudonomists, but will pointedly exclude Zephyr Rain Teachout (the winds-of-change challenger to New York governor Andrew Cuomo and one who wants to throw out the new teaching standard known as the Common Core) because that's the actual name her Vermont parents gave her at birth. (Teachout is an old Dutch surname.) The collective noun (or "term of venery") for a group of ducks is a "paddling," which is sort of cute in a "cuz that's what do they do!" sort of way, but not nearly as funny as the one I would personally nominate if this were up for a vote. I'd like it to be a "charlatan of ducks," from a recent article on Slate about the way too many desperate college applicants, plus students trying to avoid charges of plagiarism, are succumbing to the temptation of MS Word's "right-click thesaurus." One poor clicking cluck wrote of hearing the "charlatan" of ducks in the distance, as that word had appeared there as a synonym for quack. Some other collective favorites include: a glaring of cats; a murder of crows; a memory of elephants; a business of ferrets; a charm of finches; a bloat of hippopotamuses; a scold of jays; a deceit of lapwings; a kindle of kittens; a barren of mules; a superfluity of nuns; a poverty of pipers; a gaze of raccoons; and a clutter of spiders. And ladies, remember, next time you're surrounded by a superfluity of men, just lean in and picture them as a "blush of boys" and see if that doesn't put your name on the map. (And while we're at it, perhaps we should start calling ourselves a girder, a girth, or even a girn, of girls!) Colletive* (which should really be called collective*) was found three times in OhioLINK, and 137 times in WorldCat.

(My own shot of a "charlatan" of ducks, paddling across the pool at the Empire State Plaza.)

Carol Reid

Monday, August 25, 2014

Demoliton* (for Demolition*)

What goes up must come down, but I had never actually witnessed the demolition of a building before, until the razing of the Wellington Hotel Annex brought down the house, as it were, last weekend. Actually, I didn't really see it but I did hear the loud bang and feel the rumbling boom beneath my quietly treading feet. (This supposedly exciting, if all too brief, event had been slated to occur last Thursday, but would have wreaked havoc with state-worker parking and other weekday traffic, so on the eve of destruction it was moved to Saturday, a day I happened to be scheduled to work at the library. Sadly, we weren't able to see much from the seventh floor as a large tower blocked our view; however, a friend got some awesome still and video footage.) In any case, no one was too sad about the loss. The annex was a spectactularly ugly building, unlike the hotel itself, which was gutted several years ago, with the promise that its facade would be incorporated into the new convention center. The Wellington Hotel was an Albany landmark, the signature center of Wellington Row. It provided lodging for father-and-son governors Mario (former) and Andrew (current) Cuomo, along with other local politicos; it also housed many State University at Albany students up until the 1980s. Bob Dylan stayed there once. So did Albany-born news curmudgeon Andy Rooney. When the hotel was destroyed in 2009, hundreds of feral felines (many of them "tuxedo cats") had to be rescued, spayed, and resocialized for potential adoption. Some were even given cool-cat names, like "Mario Wellington." While cats have been known to occasionally wreck the homes of their owners, at least in part, this may have been one of the few times that the good people of Albany went and ruined theirs. (Although if they were as charming as those in Esther Averill's classic children's book The Hotel Cat, I would hope they ended up in better ones.) Today's typo was found once in OhioLINK, and 118 times in WorldCat. Demolish any of these still lingering in your own catalog and start building from there.

(State Street entrance to the Wellington Hotel in Albany, New York, prior to demolition, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

Friday, August 22, 2014

Impovi* (for Improvi*, Impove*, etc.)

Is it rude to Twitter during sex? To go "omg, omg, wtf, zzz"? Is that rude? - Robin Williams
We recently lost a serious talent and a great heart with the death of actor/comedian Robin Williams. Williams made improvisation seem effortless, and many are feeling impoverished in his absence.

One of the tricks or rules of improvisation I was first taught is this: Never say “no.” Say “yes, and...” For example, if one actor asks, “Is this your briefcase?” the answer “No” halts the scene. The response “Yes, and there’s a bomb in it!” lets the scene continue and introduces a new element. Nothing shuts down a scene faster than negativity. Williams knew this, and even at his darkest moments, the heart of his performances (the “yes”) always shone through.

The International Business Times posted videos of nine of Williams’ best improvisational moments – if you need a laugh, check them out.  And now I'll leave you with a few words of wisdom:
No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. - Robin Williams

Leanne Olson

(Photo of Robin Williams by Steve Jurvetson courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; Thank you to fellow blogger extraordinaire Carol Reid for the Williams quotes.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Masterpeice* (for Masterpiece*)

On this day in 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in Paris, France. It was a Monday morning, and surprisingly, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece wasn’t noticed to be missing until Tuesday at noon. It was lost for two years, and finally recovered in the thief’s apartment mere blocks from the museum.

When the news of her disappearance was released, many people thought it was a prank – how could the most famous painting in the world just vanish? Denial turned to depression: Louvre Curator of Painting Jean-Pierre Cuzin said, "The public came just to see the void where the painting had been hung, just to see the nails which held her. Everyone thought that she was lost forever.” Following that were the jokes, including offers to steal the Eiffel tower and songs written about the theft.

For a bonus typo, search “Mono Lisa,” which we’ve blogged about previously.  To read more about the theft, read the story on

Leanne Olson

(Empty frame image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Artic (for Arctic)

A cataloguer on the AUTOCAT Listserv recently shared the worst summary note she'd ever seen in a cataloguing record. We found it to be so funny that it had to be shared beyond the email's audience.

This is from the bibliographic record for a DVD titled Journey to the Edge of the World:
Billy Connolly as he takes you on a voyage through the North West Passage, a legendary route deep within the artic circle that has periously thwarted explorers for centeries. In the journey to the edge of the world Billy retraces their steps and retells the history and predicted furture of this land, in his own unique and impassion style. The program captures the thrilling, emotional and exceptional experiences that Billy Connolly has encounted along his journey. He learns how to be a bear whisperer, goes panning for gold and discovers the finer complexities of the Inuit language. With breathtaking scenary and a kalideoscope of characters Billy met along the way, Journey to the edge of the world reveals a glimpse of a stunning land rarely witnessed by the western world, now bought to life with the help of a very special guide.

It's practically incomprehensible. How many errors can you spot? On first glance I find four in the first sentence, I assume it's supposed to read "Join Billy Connolly as..."

Any of the errors might be used for today's typo.  I went with Artic, no wildcard -- though note that it's valid in some Nordic languages ("Artic Cirkel") and that Artic can also refer to a type of tram, a brand of vodka, and a town in Indiana, USA, so don't make batch updates on this one.

Leanne Olson

(Image of a point on the Arctic Circle courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Maltesen.)