Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Foolery #36: It's all about the cake

My entire family has a bit of an obsession about cake.

My eldest aunt is one who both sends and expects to receive birthday cards about cake, no mushy sentimental writing for her. We call each other on birthdays and discuss the cake although for most of them it is assumed to be white cake with white buttercream frosting. Our branch is a little more flexible since we are chocoholics, but that awful slimy Crisco fluff frosting is not allowed.

There are stories of joy, sorrow, and the paranormal around family birthday cakes, and don't even get me started on the wedding cakes which are subject to such a high level of scrutiny that I believe ours required more time & planning than the ceremony itself.

You may already be familiar with Cake Wrecks but I just had to feature them here because days later I am still laughing over An Indecent Proposal (perfectly safe for work as long as you can laugh out loud) where a man decided to propose with a cake during a cruise.

As he and his girlfriend went for a walk on the beach, though, they came across the very inspiration he'd been looking for. There, written in the sand, illuminated by moonlight, was the word "dork".

This alone is the type of humor I live for but wait, there's more...

Then, with a flick of the wrist, the waiter removes the lid to reveal....

Her answer & another cake? Click to find out!

I see a bright future for that manyed couple if they were so in love they didn't even notice what would have driven me to hysterical tears of laughter. I fully agree with this comment.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

PubMed update now online.. now share your thoughts!

Were you at MLA '09 and missed some of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) presentations, wanted to watch one again, or were never there in the first place to see them? Check out the Medical Library Association 2009 Annual Meeting Theater Presentations!

In particular don't miss the PubMed Update, 17 minutes long with accurate closed captioning so no sound is required to receive all the information. You did get the news that Single Citation Matcher is not going away, correct? If not, see for yourself at 1:27! An introduction and explanation of the NCBI Discovery Initiative and the PubMed 'ads' are from 12:46-14:13. The PubMed redesign information begins at 15:30 with a great picture of a mockup at 16:00.

I am honestly sorry I can't do a full play-by-play guide like last year, but the life part of my work-life balance is extremely out of order at the moment.

What do you think about how things are currently with PubMed? What at MLA '09 caught your attention for what's in store? What third-party PubMed apps do you love? The delay is over; blog about it by June 5th and share with everyone! Please click to review the rules & entry form.

As an aside: Am I that much of a dork for wondering why they call this a theater presentation when there's no big screen, no comfy chairs or sticky floors, and no popcorn? The answer is probably yes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering the US Army: the National Library of Medicine's beginnings


Did you know the National Library of Medicine (NLM) was created by and existed for the United States military for much longer than it currently has served the American people through a Congressional mandate in 1956?

In 1818 the first Surgeon General of the United States Army, Dr. Joseph Lovell, dedicated some shelf space to medical books, journals and pamphlets to serve as reference for surgeons under his command. This small collection was officially named the Library of the Office of the Surgeon General of the Army in 1836, although by the 1860s Joseph Woodward was not impressed and stated, "At the time the late Civil War broke out nothing deserving the name of a medical library existed in Washington."

Despite low beginnings the collection grew and by 1895 under the direction of John Shaw Billings it contained medical literature from nearly every era and nation. After President Lincoln's assassination in 1865, the government purchased Ford's Theater and the collection, medical records and an Army museum were housed there. There were additional moves and a few name changes to Army Medical Library in 1922, then Armed Forces Medical Library in 1952.

For much more detail see Milestones in NLM History, A Brief History of NLM, and FAQ: History of the National Library of Medicine.

On April 15th, I thanked American taxpayers for sustaining NLM. On this Memorial Day, I thank the American military for creating & curating it for so many years in addition to our country's freedom.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Foolery #35: Blastoff

6 Year Rocket Boy

By law our 6 year old son's Estes Alpha rocket wasn't nearly as large nor flew as far as the NIH Rocket Boys' did on Monday night but that made it no less of a wonder. It flew up out of sight initially and took about 5 minutes to come back down to Earth despite the pouring rain! We were cold and soaked through in a downpour but his pride at 'it came down all in one piece.. and I found it!' was worth it.

My husband built rockets in school but this was a first for me. Launching model rockets with kids under 12 (even with adult supervision) is prohibited in my home state so I'm glad we live here. This experience made quite a profound impression on our son, the rocket is still sitting on our kitchen table in front of his placemat, and who knows what the future may hold.

I want to get a launcher and another igniter & blast it off myself next....

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mahalo MLA '09 Connectivity!

While I was truly happy to miss Hawaii in order to celebrate two family birthdays, a Cub Scout graduation ceremony that involved torrential rain and rockets, and a breakfast with my two favorite aunts from out of state, I was concerned about not being aware of the news coming from the conference and being 'out of the loop.'

I shouldn't have.

Due to the great efforts of many talented organizers, I not only felt I was hearing the latest thanks to Twitter and the Official Blog, but I was able to participate in them live a few times. Special thanks go to whoever set up the TweetChat channel at the Tech Trends panel (a bear walking by our house rudely interrupted my time there) and Rachel Walden during the Ethics Task Force open forum for voicing my Twitter input there.

What I am most excited about are the conference posters online, presented in a forum for all to browse. Having the MLA 09 poster guide handy is probably best as the search function highlights matched posters for terms but won't draw them together into a collection. Go check it out! The rather large embed is below this post in case it doesn't come across the RSS feed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Foolery #34: The Hukilau Song

In 1990 I met one of my best friends for life at camp. She tortured me by singing The Hukilau Song repeatedly then got several of my friends to do the same. I still love her anyway.

As a result of surfing YouTube for examples of this song to share, our 6 year old son has now learned it & the torture is continuing anew 19 years later.

Since I'm not there to do it myself, I challenge the Medical Library Association '09 crowd to get a ukulele and play it. Don't know the tune, the words, or how to play a ukulele? No problem! Here is everything you need from a great teacher right here in Seattle:

Just imagine the fun & excitement you now have in store for your committee and section business meetings that begin at 6:30 AM!

Bonus points if you stop by to serenade Elsevier* with a bunch of cod!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Elsevier*: An ethically responsible call to action

(a visit from the Library Society of the World's Cod of Ethics to the seafood pasta salad bar)

I have been waiting for all of my brilliant library colleagues to cover the Elsevier/Merck fake journal fiasco before offering my own opinion here, but the fact of the matter is that while H1N1 may not yet be an official stage 6 pandemic... this issue is.

It very well should and continue to be because this is a serious breach of ethics that is deeply disturbing to the information field.

Previously I was unaware of the Progressive Librarians Guild, which is a bit too out there even for me, but today their blog entry caught my attention because they put into words exactly what I've been thinking:

ALA and other library organizations, such as the Medical Library Association, must insist that Elsevier and its divisions reveal all covert corporate involvements in sponsored pseudo-scholarship, especially the role of MECCs (medical education and communication companies), which are paid to “ghostwrite” disingenuous articles. Elsevier must commit itself to ending such activity and must apply consistent standards of research integrity and transparency commensurate to the key role many of its fields of publication play in spheres affecting the public interest.

Is the Medical Library Association listening? Check out our new president's message today on Twitter:

If you want to print your own Cod of Ethics to take to MLA '09, please do as it isn't copyrighted. I do hope people will attend the Ethics Task Force meeting and discuss Elsevier in particular. We had quite a discussion on Medical Librarians FriendFeed since I didn't know about the task force existence before all this hit.

It is hard enough for us already to teach about the use of credible health information sources in this age of doctors polling about the use of Wikipedia and people thinking Google is an accurate and unbiased consumer health search engine.

When a Major League asterisk is next to Elsevier's name (are there other publishers at bat now?) for allegations of questionable credibility, we have to step up to the plate not only as individuals but with the voice of our professional organizations as well. This is especially crucial when Elsevier is a major sponsor of our own professional organization conference. Do we want our own individual and organizational integrity questioned by our users if we let this pass without official comment or action?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Foolery #33: Kiki wishes all safe travels to MLA '09

Kiki (short for Waikiki) is one of my childhood dolls. My grandma loved to travel and always brought me a 'native' doll from wherever she went. I kept every single one and they are on three shelves of a display case in our living room. I don't remember her giving Kiki to me so since she is soft with no pointy edges or detachable parts & named for where she's from (like Jamaica, another cloth doll) I'm going to guess I was about 3 years old.

Anyone recognize the MLA hand sanitizer? Who knew the swag bag goodies from the New Member's Breakfast at MLA '08 in Chicago could turn out to be so prophetic! The ring is from the Sisterhood of the Flowery Cupcake Rings. You had to be there to understand that one, and they claim they'll bring their rings to MLA '09 so if you spot one say hi! All of them will affirm I'm even more of a lunatic in person than I am online. I was the one who brought the cupcakes, after all.

I won't be going to MLA '09 this year by choice as I am actively researching and preparing for my time on the other side of the country at the bioinformatics fellowship in Woods Hole later this month. I also want to enjoy my husband's birthday, my birthday, and our son launching a rocket (not NIH-strength) as part of his very first Scouting graduation ceremony here at home.

I may be obsessed with health informatics (and bacon), but family is always my life.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Medlib's Round delay & near-pandemic social media progress

Due to a combination of people preparing for the Medical Library Association's upcoming conference in Hawaii and the global outbreak of H1N1 influenza, the Medlib's Round blog carnival is delayed until June 6th with publication on June 9th.

Many are, as usual, wondering if "the media" has overblown the H1N1 outbreak. I haven't watched any television news or talk shows recently (I rarely to never do anyway) so I can't comment there. However, when it comes to online and social media outlets, two things in particular impress me for signs of how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are opening up to these tools as high quality information resources during a near-pandemic situation.

The first is MedlinePlus and PubMed with the placement of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) H1N1 widget on the front pages. In addition, the very first hyperlink offered for the H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) MedlinePlus page is @CDCemergency, an official Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Twitter account. When I began writing this post the morning of May 6th, it had 104,266 followers. As of 10:25 that same evening the number had jumped up to 108,698! Others without Twitter accounts may be subscribing via RSS feed, those numbers are not included.

The second is the inclusion of Patricia Anderson's iGoogle H1N1 swine flu tab as an information resource within the NIH Library. To be clear, this is not NLM as NLM is the medical library for everyone and the NIH Library is for the 27 entities that make up the National Institutes of Health.

Are these uses of online & social media and the resources wiki I started all hype? Of course not. As is always the case for work and our own personal sanity, we must enable our own filters to narrow in on quality resources, share them, and tune out misinformation. A bit of humor now and then for you is good for you too.

This is a good opportunity to review your own emergency preparedness plans too... H1N1 isn't too severe now, but nobody can say that will continue to be the case during the flu season this fall. Will your library be prepared to still function if social distancing measures are enacted? Check out a pandemic planning exercise for more details.

I'm still hopeful for the day when we will see an NLM social media presence. CDC are truly the 2009 HHS social media pioneers who have had their hands full between the peanut recall and now H1N1. Hopefully things will settle down to allow for evaluation to determine some best practices to be shared by all, but in the meantime keep up the amazing work!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Foolery #32: Counter-Entropy Squad vs. Swine Flu

Fun things to do once the video finally loads
  1. Who is the rockstar professor? Identify by voice alone.
  2. EBM poster!
  3. Is it some East Coast thing to toast the end of the semester with coffee? We out here on the West Coast do coffee 3x/day while studying then add something stronger to it to celebrate the end
  4. 3:20 minutes in - Envision what you'll do when the Aporkalypse hits your library