Winter of ’41

LandscapeTo many of us Winter ’41 probably means Pearl Harbor.  Last December 7th was the 77th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.   Ray Chavez, the oldest Pearl Harbor survivor, passed away peacefully in his sleep on November 20, 2018.  He was from Poway, north of San Diego, California.

President George Herbert Walk Bush, 41st president of the United States, and youngest Navy aviator to serve in World War II, passed away on November 30, 2018.   The last “Greatest Generation” president, he was in marked contrast to what may be the last “Baby boomer” president.  The accolades at his funeral and other memorial services stressed his lifelong service to country despite his patrician background and upbringing.

GHW Bush as president

In the last years of his life, President Bush was asked how he’d like to be remembered. He didn’t pause — and he avoided, as ever, the first-person pronoun, what his mother used to call the “Great I Am” — and replied: “That we put the country first.”

tom bradyForty-one year old Tom Brady is playing in his ninth Super Bowl tomorrow.  He has only won five of them.  The Patriots are predicted to beat the Rams tomorrow in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.

The USS Midway (CV-41) Carrier Museum in San Diego is  named after the Battle of Midway, the pivotal battle in the Pacific against the Japanese.  The Midway was the longest serving carrier in the 20th century.  She was christened on 10 September, eight days after World War II ended on September 2, 1945.  For the next 47 years, she served the country including three tours off the coast of Vietnam.  Her pilots shot USS Midway banner.png

down the first and last MiGs during that conflict.  She was the Persian Gulf flagship during Operation Desert Storm, and was decommissioned on April 11, 1992.  She was the first forward deployed carrier, when she pulled into Yokosuka, Japan on October 5, 1972.  Today she is the most successful ship museum in the world.  She was opened to the public in San Diego on June 7, 2004.


February Days to Celebrate

For a short month, February has more than it’s share of holidays and other days to celebrate.

Ground hogThe month kicks off with Ground Hog Day on February 2.  Also known as Imbolc: Summoning of the Flame.  Is Winter on it’s way out?  Will Spring arrive early?  Only the Ground Hog may know for sure.

blackhistorymonthcivilrightsFebruary is also Black History Month and Library Lover’s Month. Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in the U.S., is an annual observance in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It began as a way for remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.

Library Lover’s Month “is dedicated to the people who love whole buildings devoted to the reading, housing, organizing, categorizing, finding, studying and otherwise loving books.”  It’s not all free and on the Internet.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

saferinternetdaySafer Internet Day is February 5. “This year’s Safer Internet Day (SID) celebrations will take place on Tuesday, 5 February 2019. The campaign’s slogan, “Together for a better internet“, is a call to action for all stakeholders to join together and play their part in creating a better internet for everyone, and especially for younger users.”

Presidents figure prominently in February.  Abraham Lincoln’s, 16th president, birthday is celebrated on February 12th and Presidents Day (which is celebrated around George Washington’s (1st president) birthday on February 22) is February 18th this year.  An easy way to see a portrait of either president is to find George’s portrait on a $1 bill and Lincoln’s on a $5 bill.


Love Your Pet Day, celebrated on February 20, is a good way to remember your dog, cat, snake, fish, turtle, horse, cow, amadillo, hamster, gerbil, frog, rock or whatever type of pet you have.


Happy February.


Volunteers–What Supervisors Want

Before I retired, I worked in base (similar to public) libraries and academic libraries.  In both cases, we used volunteers.  Sometimes the volunteers were family members and other times they were special duty soldiers (SDs)  who were temporarily assigned to the library because they were awaiting reassignment or had some type of physical reason that they needed to be assigned limited duty.

People volunteered for a variety of reasons.  Some high schools required their students to complete a number of volunteer hours as a pre-requisite for graduation. (They made great volunteers.) Occasionally a parent would want a child to get work experience or spend part of the summer doing something constructive, especially if the child considered him or herself too old for the day camp run by the base youth activities.  A few adults really liked the library and wanted to help make it a better place.  The SDs were assigned to the library and did not have a choice.

Take away one:  Do you want volunteers?  If so, what kind of volunteers do you want?  How much time commitment do you want your volunteers to make?  How much training can you provide, if needed?

In the base library, the most popular assignment was usually working the circulation desk, back in the days when books were still stamped and checked out manually.  The ability to alphabetize book cards by the author’s last name, stamp the book with the date due, add the book to the correct borrower’s card, and separate the checked out books from the books being returned for check in  were all prized.  The volunteer also had to be polite to all customers and willing to help them find materials or fetch a staff member to help them.  There was not much of a dress code.

Take away two:  Attention to detail is very important when filing manually.  An item checked out to the wrong person or incorrectly could remain an issue indefinitely. It affected the library’s ability to determine who had checked an item out or whether  it had actually been returned.   Customer service is also important.  A patron should not be kept waiting because  a volunteer prefers to visit with his/her friends at the circulation desk.  

Shelf reading (putting the books back on the shelf in Dewey Decimal order) was a frequent volunteer task and one of the most unpopular because it was boring and could be dirty or uncomfortable.  There was a lot of standing and stooping as the shelf reader progressed from the top to the bottom shelf for each book case and then had to repeat the steps on the next book case. Both the teenagers and the SDs could be relied upon to avoid this assignment whenever possible.

Take away three:  A volunteer can be requested to do a job, but an unwilling volunteer will not do the job well or for very long before deciding this is not a good match.  Both the volunteer and the organization need to benefit from the transaction.  Sometime explaining the value of the task may make a temporary difference, but not if the volunteer really does not want to do it.

At Ft Story, we had SDs for varying periods of time.  Sometimes they were problem soldiers that the first sargeant wanted to temporarily reassign.  Othertimes they were soldiers with “profiles” that limited their abilities to do their military jobs.  These soldiers often had medical appoitments.  The soldiers were all young and became very adroit at working the system.  Many of them had reasons why they could not be at the library on a particular day or by a specific time.  One of them had physical therapy twice a week for two hours.  He continued to vanish during those scheduled times long after the PT ended (we found out afterwards.)

Take away four:  As a supervisor, find out what you can realistically expect from any volunteer.  If the volunteer is part of a program, find out who the program counterpart is.  Is that person willing to support you, if there is a question about the volunteer’s job performance or attendance?  This is important for both SDs (the military) and special work programs for disadvantaged people.  (I had both excellent and problem volunteers/employees paid by some other program) in both categories.)

At the National Defense University, we did not have SDs, but we did have volunteers.  Some volunteers were library school students completing an internship.  The interns were usually  good.  They got professional experience and sometimes a job offer if their graduation coincided with the Library having a job vacancy.  We had one volunteer who had already graduated but did not yet have a job.  She was a friend of one of the employees and was such a chatty-Kathy that even her friend would escape to parts of the library where she was not allowed.  She was also a disaster as a volunteer–she took forever to complete any task and her friend would have to clean up the mess after the project was ended.

Take away five:  Attitude and aptitude are often more important than actual skills or experience.

In both the academic and the base libraries,  previously identified volunteer projects was always a good idea.  What new project or event would you like to see happen, that the staff does not time to do?  Can you partner with another department to provide training or an activity that would benefit both of you?  Story hours, youth job experience, book clubs, literacy programs, technology petting zoos, seasonal displays, local celebrations or anniversaries are all opportunities for the library to shine or perhaps use volunteers.

Take away six:  It should not take more staff time to set up a volunteer opportunity than it does for the volunteer to complete the task.  The opportunity should benefit both the library and the volunteer.  A variety of previously identified projects offer the volunteer a choice on things that you would like to see happen.

What was your experience either as a volunteer or as a supervisor of volunteers?




National Peanut Butter and National Compliment Day–January 24, 2019

peanut butter and jelly sandwichUnbeknownst to me when I decided to have peanut butter toast rather than cereal for breakfast, today is National Peanut Butter day.  Although it is also National Compliment Day, I do not need to be complimented for inherently realizing that today was National Peanut Butter day.

From Holidays Calendar:

National Peanut Butter Day is a holiday which falls annually on January 24th and celebrates the tasty food spread made from grinding up the legume Arachis hypogaea. It’s a food paste that’s been enjoyed since the 19th century. Today, it’s used to make everything from the iconic peanut butter & jelly sandwich to peanut butter cookies, cakes, and chocolate bars. This is the second peanut butter based holiday celebrated in the U.S. The second one is called National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day and is celebrated on March 1st.

george washington carverAlthough George Washington Carver is famous for his work with peanuts, peanut butter has been around much longer than that.  George Washington has also been credited with inventing peanut butter but the invention dates back to the Incas.

Technically speaking, peanut butter can be traced all the way back to about 1500 B.C. This is when Incas ground peanuts down to make a paste. However, many historians don’t consider this to be when peanut butter was invented because that original concoction was less like the butter of today and more like a paste. There is also the fact that they often ground the peanuts up with maize and put the resulting product in a drink. The Aztecs also ground peanuts into a paste they used to treat toothaches.

What is your favorite peanutbutter dish? Is the the ubiquitos pb&j? Peanut butter fudge, cake, icecream. Do you prefer creamy or crunchy? Homemade/natural which separates at room temperature or homogenous which always keeps it’s original form?

In honor of National Compliment Day, practice a random act of kindness (RAK).  Compliment someone on their appearance, a parent or a child for the child’s lovely behavior, a server who has provided exceptionally good service, a member of the miltary or a veteran for their service to our country.  Give a friendly wave or a nod and smile to a pedestrian who looked both ways before crossing the street or the driver who let you merge during rush hour.  Come up with your own list of compliments you have given or received today.

Volunteers–What We Want, Part 2


Pictured above top (l) Archive I in DC, middle (l) Archive II in College Park, bottom (l) Shuttle at Archive II, (r) box containing typed decklogs for the USS Midway 1945-Mar 1946.

After I moved to Central Virginia, I was still able to volunteer for the Midway Library remotely. My shipmates on the Midway arranged a schedule where I could remotely log into the library before the ship opened (thanks to the 3 hours difference between the East Coast and the West Coast). I could access the automated library system to catalog (if they sent me a list of titles ahead of time and were willing to answer questions about titles I was uncertain about), prepare bibliographies, and research a chapter about the Vought FU4U Corsair for a forthcoming book the library is going to publish about planes that flew from the Midway over her almost 47 year career.

Living 2-1/2 hours south of DC, it was feasible to drive to Northern Virginia, catch the Metro into the District, take a free shuttle from the Archives downtown to the Archives in College Park, MD, and spend the day copying Deck Logs onto a thumbdrive.  (I usually combined the trip with an opportunity to see old friends and visit old haunts from the years I lived  and worked in the DC area.)  I upload the thumbdrive to an external drive on the Midway when I got home.  I have been doing this monthly.  I have also taken pictures of battleship presentation silver at the Smithsonian.

Take away four–Think outside the box–does a volunteer have to be onsite to provide value to the organization?  Is there anything the volunteer can do from home or some other location that would be beneficial to both the volunteer and the organization?  Possibilities include remote access, research, outreach, marketing, or providing a service on site (eg. a classroom, a senior center, a hospital) as appropriate to the organization.  Many organizations want the volunteer to start onsite so that both parties know the volunteer’s interests and capabilities and whether the volunteer is a good match for the organization.

Miller Center frontOnce a week, I volunteer for the Scripp’s Library at the Miller Center of Public Affairs for UVA.  I copy catalog books using a Mac laptop and the Koha Integrated Libary System.  It is the first time I have used  an Apple computer or the Koha open source ILS (so you can teach an old librarian new tricks).  I copy cataloging records that have previously been created by the Library of Congress or the University of Virginia.  The solo librarian had to get permission from the Volunteer Co-ordinator for me to be able to help since most of their volunteers are students. (However, most students are not professional librarians with over 30 years of experience who also know how to catalog.)   The work is pleasant but I have been introduced to very few people and mostly sit in the library in a corner, cataloging the books.  I am regularly told how much I am helping and the empty shelf that was previously full of book donations indicate the progress that has been made in the past year.

Take away five–Make the volunteer feel welcome and a part of the team.  Let them know about what is going on in the larger organization. Thank them for the work they are doing  and let them know it does make a difference.

To be continued:  What an organization wants in a volunteer.

Volunteers–What We Want, Part I

One of things I have done since retirement is volunteer, both in San Diego and now in Central Virginia.  In San Diego, I volunteered for the San Diego Public library, the National Park Service, and the USS Midway Carrier Museum Library.  In Central Virginia, I still volunteer remotely for the USS Midway and  for the Scripps Library at the Miller Center.


library volunteers delivering a mlk message
Volunteers put on a MLK Jr story hour at Joint Base San Antonio, TX

At the public library, I shelved DVDs.  On the plus side it was simple, no one had to take time to create a project for me, and there were always DVDs to shelve.  I had a schedule, but I could have shelved DVDs at any time.  On the minus side it was boring–necessary but not a good use of my skill set.  Fortunately, the children’s librarian took an interest in me and had me tutor a remarkable young man one hour a week.  (He did not really need a tutor but his mother wanted him to have it.  He was an immigrant child with excellent English, strong sense of duty, and wonderful manners.  When he saw me come in, he would stop what he was doing, including leaving a game with his friends or participating in a library program.  I usually told him to come back when the event was over.)


Take away one–Make the volunteer feel welcomed and try to give them a task that will enrich them as much as it will the organization benefitting from their time and abilities.


open bunker day re-enactors set up a military checkpont at cabrillo
Volunteer WWII re-enactors set up a check point like there would have been when the tip of Pt. Loma was a Costal Artilley Base during WWII

At Cabrillo National Monunment, the Park Service referred to us as VIPs  (Volunteers in Parks),  a wonderful acronym that already started with you feeling like a Very Important Person.  Unlike the library which had strong rules about volunteers not doing what a paid employee should be doing, the Park Service treated us as equals, not free grunt labor. (Both Rangers and VIPs share a lot of the scutt work from clean-up to manning the Visitor Center.  We all realized that the Rangers had the final word and they were always careful to consider volunteer opinions and recommendations.)  We could do inside work, outside work, behind the scenes work, frontline work–almost anything we felt comfortable doing from leading nature walks, historical re-enactment at the Lighthouse, the WWII coastal artillery batteries, the Age of Discovery exhibits,  at or in the Tidepools, to working with records and files.


Take away two–As  much as possible, treat the volunteers as an intregal part of your team.  Don’t treat them as free grunt labor.


maddy and nan getting thier docent graduation certificates from ceo mac maclaughlin
Maddy and Nancy graduating from Docent Training.  Volunteers can get the training, even if they do not plan to become a Docent.

At the Midway Library, I served as a Lead Librarian one afternoon a week.  The Midway Library is totally manned by volunteers.  The only paid position, is our boss, the Mueum Curator. While I was at the library, I usually  cataloged, but I also helped people who came up  to look themselves or somebody else up in the Master Crew List.  I could wander around the ship learning about different parts of the ship, its history, its crew, and its varying missions.   Anything we learned could be of use, when a guest stopped us anywhere on the ship with a question.  Each section wore a different colored golf or tee shirt and kahki pants/shorts/skirts–but the guests would have no reason to be aware that our uniform indicated our volunteer speciality.  They only knew or cared that we were part of the Midway and could help them with a question or a problem.  We were always invited to take advantage of any learning opportunity on the Midway.


Take away three–Let the volunteer learn as much about your organization as possible.  You never know who will ask them a question.   They are also a valuable marketing opportunity to get your organization exposed to groups that may not be part of your normal constituency.

To be continued…..

Wishy-Washy Winter

winter tree.jpgCentral Virginia has had exceptional rainfall since last Spring.  In 2018, we recorded our second wettest year.   With each changing season, many of us hope that we will have more than a week without rain.  So far, no such luck.

I’ve lived in California and know that they desparately need the rain.  Another El Nino year  is in progress.  Like most trends, what starts in California, soon spreads across the nation.  The precipitation is no exception.

Except for climate change, we can not do anything about the weather except monitor it, discuss it, bitch about it, maybe even prepare for it, but we can not change it.  It will be hot/cold, wet/dry, seasonal/unseasonal.

I wish the rain would come and wash the dregs of snow away.  Yesterday I saw the first winter jasmine blossoms burst forth on their long shoots, adding small splahses of yellow on an otherwise gray/white landscape. Across the back yard, the daffodil stalks are an inch above the soil line.  Spring is staking out an early toehold.

Winter Jasmine Boar's Head Inn

Ground Hog Day is two weeks from tomorrow.  The fat rodent will be yanked, protestingly, from his burrow to forecast the possibility of an early spring.  He will have a shadow of a chance of being correct.

We’ve  gained almost an half hour extra of sunlight in the evening since the Solstice.  The calendar inches forward one day at a time but my impatient mind yells “Enough already!  Spring we’re waiting.”

Two crocus St. Paul Ivy Graveyard


Musings for January 15, 2019

sun melting the snow 20190115The sun came out for the first time in four days. It’s comparative warmth (41 so far) is welcome and it has begun to melt our 4 inches of snow

January sun greetings–Hello Sun,  where have you been?  We’ve missed you Bro.  Looking forward to you melting all of the snow and ice around here.

  July sun greetings–Hello Sun.  You here again, Bro?  Where’re the clouds to blunt your heat? I need some ice water to drink.  You’re melting me.

Bloom where you are planted, but you may have to move the pot.  We had to move the lemon tree three times before finally finding the spot it liked.  Last Spring, we placed it in the living room.  By mid summer it had dropped so many leaves that moved it to the back porch, where we figured it would die by fall when the temperatures dropped.   The plant looked healthy in early fall so we brought it indoors to the family room.  It began to produce small buds.  Now many of those buds have blossomed.  If we can figure out how to pollinate the flowers with a Q-tip without killing the buds, we may actually get lemons.  We can maybe even make lemonade (althought I’d rather make lemoncello.)

lemon tree in bloom 20190115

The House has stripped Steve King (R- Iowa) from all of his committee assignments because of his white nationalist comments. Are Republicans using him as a proxy for what they might have wished to say to the President?

You may be right, (dead right).  In the gym parking lot, two coeds ambled across the parking lot with utter disregard for any cars that might have been pulling into or out of parking spots.   Fortunately, a third coed driving a BMW was paying attention and let them have the right of way.  As she turned the corner of the parking lot, a large amount of snow fell off the back of her car where she had not bothered to finish clearing it off over 24 hours after the snow had ceased falling.   There was no poetic justice because the two ambling coeds had already passed the spot where the snow fell.