Miskatonic University Press

My Pen Addict question

podcasts stationery

I was delighted to hear my “Ask TPA” question asked on the new episode of The Pen Addict podcast.

I use a Filofax for my daily calendar, and I use my fountain pens in it. Being a calendar, things change. Sometimes I write something in and then I cancel it or the date moves. When that happens, I’ve been using Bic Wite-Out tape to cover up what was written, but it’s really hard to write on top of this. The nib gets gummed up and scratches the tape stuff. Is there anything better I can do except paste in small labels? What’s the best way to make corrections with fountain pens?

Thanks for any help. Thanks also for telling us Torontonians how big our pen show is! I had no idea how it compared to American shows.

(My Filofax is “personal” size (14 cm wide by 20 cm high) and zips up around the edges. It’s great. I use a cream-coloured week-on-two-pages calendar and have a bunch of different inserts.)

Brad Dowdy didn’t know the answer but hoped that a listener might have a suggestion. So do I.

I recommend The Pen Addict podcast to all fountain pen enthusiasts. The first time I tried it, I thought, “Two guys talking about fountain pens for an hour every week? Really?” Turns out that’s what everyone thinks. Then most of them start enjoying it and it becomes a regular weekly treat. There are other podcasts about pens and stationery but this is the only one I’ve stuck with.

Betty pops into the library

archie libraries

Here’s another story for the Archi(v)e: “The Tip Off,” which first appeared in Archie 431 (January 1995). It’s a very funny one, written by the great Frank Doyle, where some of the gang gets upset after misunderstanding what an aglet is. Betty, who can always think for herself, wants to check on the meaning.

Betty looks at the library
Betty looks at the library

In the next panel she says, “I think I’ll pop into the library and check it out in the big dictionary!”

“The Tip Off” was pencilled by Stan Goldberg, inked by Henry Scarpelli, lettered by Bill Yoshida and coloured by Barry Grossman. I read it in Archie (Jumbo Comics) Double Digest 293 (December 2018). It is copyright Archie Comic Publications.

Archie returns books to the library

archie libraries

“Raking It In” is an Archie story with a bit of Tom-Sawyer-paint-the-fence to it. Mr. Andrews tells Archie to go out and rake the yard, which Archie does, but then he suddenly remembers he has to return books to the library before they’re overdue, and the library is only open half the day. He gets Jughead to rake the leaves for him, then Ethel rakes them for Jug, then Betty rakes them for Ethel (hoping it’ll mean Archie kisses her).

In the middle of all that, Mr. Andrews is downtown and is surprised to see Archie not at home.

Panel from the comic.
Panel from the comic.

There only ever seems to be one branch of the Riverdale Public Library in the comics. None of them ever have a special name, even though they can look very different. This one is downtown in a good-sized city.

“Raking It In” first appeared in Archie 513 (October 2001), but I read it in Archie (Jumbo Comics) Double Digest 293 (December 2018). It was written by Greg Crosby, pencilled by Stan Goldberg, inked by Bob Smith and lettered by Bill Yoshida. No colourist is listed. “Raking It In” is copyright Archie Comic Publications.

Self-hosting Libre Baskerville web font


Today I changed Listening to Art so it uses a self-hosted copy of the Libre Baskerville Google Font. For future reference, here’s how I did it.

First, I decided I wanted to change the font to Baskerville because that’s what I use in print. I checked up on Google Fonts and discovered it has Libre Baskerville, which would do me fine, and it’s under an open license.

However, instead of letting visiting browsers load it from Google, I’d have to self-host it, because I do not want to have my sites loading in anything from outside providers. That helps advertisers and content delivery networks track people from site to site.

Listening to Art before
Listening to Art before

Second, I did a bunch of stuff that turned out to be not the best thing to do and anyway it didn’t work. Then I read How to host google web fonts on my own server? on Stack Overflow.

Third, I downloaded google-font-download, which is a free and open source bash script. I ran it on the three scripts listed at Google Fonts.

$ ./google-font-download "Libre Baskerville:400" "Libre Baskerville:400italic" "Libre Baskerville:700"
Downloading Libre Baskerville:400...woff2 woff eot svg ttf
Downloading Libre Baskerville:400italic...woff2 woff eot svg ttf
Downloading Libre Baskerville:700...woff2 woff eot svg ttf

This left me with a bunch of Libre_Baskerville_* files and font.css.

Fourth, I moved all those files into the Listening to Art /css/ directory and renamed the CSS file to baskerville.css.

Fifth, I edited the main CSS file. I added this to point to the local fonts:

@import url("baskerville.css")

Then I told it to use Libre Baskerville with this font-family line:

body {
  font-size: 125%;
  line-height: 140%;
  background: #002b36;
  font-family: 'Libre Baskerville', serif;

For some reason the main text on the pages lost its light colour and went black, so I had to force the text colour to be what I wanted, but that was the only thing that went wrong. Also, I removed the small caps from the headings.

Listening to Art before
Listening to Art before

Of course it looks much nicer in print (where I use the LaTeX BaskervaldX font), but I’m happy they’re closer now.

Framework Radio

field.recordings music podcasts

Another podcast I support and recommend is Framework Radio.

welcome to framework. framework is a show consecrated to field-recording, and its use in composition. field-recording, phonography, the art of sound-hunting; open your ears and listen!

It comes out weekly and each show is a one hour mix of field recordings by one or more people from around the world. Some recordings are raw and some have been edited and transformed into musical compositions. Weeks go back and forth between shows put together by the host, Patrick McGinley, and “Framework Afield,” where the show is done by a contributor with their own recordings.

Episode 671 screen shot
Episode 671 screen shot

Framework Radio is a great show. If you’re interested in field recordings, ambient music, sound art, etc., then you probably know about the show, but if not, you’ll love it. If you’re new to that kind of thing, I recommend getting a recent episode (probably best to start with one put together by the regular host, not an Afield, to get a wider mix of sounds), putting on headphones, and spending a quiet hour listening and attending. It’s not familiar music, but it’s always interesting and often very beautiful.

(Chris Watson really likes the show too. He recommended it in something I heard on BBC Radio Four last year.)

Wanted: Media archivist at York

code4lib libraries york

We’re hiring four new people this spring at York University Libraries, where I work, and the first posting is up: media archivist.

York University Libraries (YUL) seeks a dynamic and innovative individual with strong leadership potential to advance York University Libraries’ archival and special collections portfolio in support of the research community across campus and beyond in the area of media (film, sound recordings, audiovisual recordings and photography; in both digital and analogue form). This position is for an early or mid-career professional with some applied experience and/or expertise in the area of film and AV preservation.

Everything I know about interviewing at York University Libraries I put on a web page: the informatively titled Interviewing at York University Libraries. Any archivists who might apply for the job should read that, and if they have any questions after, I’m glad to chat or to put them on to someone else.

Hollinger boxes are important in archives
Hollinger boxes are important in archives

A few things to note about the job ad.

This position is for an early or mid-career professional …

We used to advertise for people with “up to four years post-MLIS experience” or some such. Many people found this confusing and even thought it was age discrimination (which it isn’t). It was done because librarian and archivist salaries are calculated based on years-since-MLIS, and the most recent the graduate, the lower the salary (see my interviewing page for more). Budgets are always tight. Nevertheless, lately we’ve stopped being so restrictive and now specify a general level of experience. We hope this will mean a better pool of applicants.

York University is an Affirmative Action (AA) employer and strongly values diversity, including gender and sexual diversity, within its community.

We take this seriously. Our newly revised AA plan says, “The affirmative action target groups for the Libraries for the year and for the near future are: visible minorities, members of Aboriginal or Indigenous persons; and persons with disabilities. The Libraries actively seek to recruit and hire members of these groups to enrich the full-time staffing complement.” We mean it. If you’re an archivist who falls into one of those groups and think you might want to work at York, please apply and self-identify. If you know such a person, please tell them about this.

Consideration will be given to those who have followed non-traditional career paths or had career interruptions.

This was introduced into our ads a couple of years ago, and I’m happy to say I helped. If someone applying took some time out of their career to raise a child, look after someone, deal with an illness, or anything else causing a gap in their resume, they should mention it briefly, alluding to the line in the ad.

Interviews will take place between 10-16 April 2019.

This is good to know not only for anyone applying but also for us already working at YUL. Now I know when the job talks will be, so I marked that in my calendar so I can keep my mornings clear.

How to Burn a Million Quid

art music podcasts

The BBC’s new six-part drama How to Burn a Million Quid is excellent. Highly recommended.

Image from BBC Radio web site.
Image from BBC Radio web site.

It’s the story of the two fellows in The KLF and something they did in 1994. The Wikipedia article K Foundation Burn a Million Quid puts it:

[This] was an action on 23 August 1994 in which the K Foundation (an art duo consisting of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty) burned cash in the amount of one million pounds sterling in a disused boathouse on the Ardfin Estate on the Scottish island of Jura. The money represented the bulk of the K Foundation’s funds, earned by Drummond and Cauty as The KLF, one of the United Kingdom’s most successful pop groups of the early 1990s.

Each part of the radio play is about half an hour long. It starts with Drummond and Cauty flying through a storm to Jura, with two suitcases full of cash, and then the rest of is is mostly flashbacks about how they met, formed the band, got hugely successful, and then got completely fed up. How much of the play is accurate, I don’t know. It’s pretty wild, and much in the spirit The Illuminatus! Trilogy, which inspired The KLF.

BBC Radio does excellent radio plays, and if they’re starting to do them as podcasts too, I’m all for it.

Here’s the video for The KLF and Tammy Wynette doing “Justified and Ancient” in 1991. In the radio series this is a really entertaining event.

The Wobblies on STAPLR

art code4lib libraries music sonification sonic.pi staplr

I’m running “The Wobblies” on STAPLR this month. STAPLR (Sounds in Time Actively Performing Library Reference) is my sonification of activity at the reference and help desks at York University Libraries.

Here’s a one-hour sample, heard starting at 1211 on Friday 01 February 2019.

Download the MP3 audio file if you like.

STAPLR cover
STAPLR cover

STAPLR uses Sonic Pi to make its sounds. The composition is named after The Wobblies because it randomly chooses between two Sonic Pi synths, :mod_dsaw and :mod_pulse, both of which sound wobbly. For the mapping of data to sound I ignore everything about the desk interaction except how long it took, which determines how long the sound is. Where it happened and what type of question it was are ignored.

Right now it’s version 1.5 of “The Wobblies,” and I may change it through the month, but it’ll sound much the same.

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