Wednesday, May 27, 2009

DMV - Fail

I had such high hopes.

When you live a while in a place, your interactions with the DMV become infrequent. You only have to show up in person to renew your license (as long as you have the car dealer do the registration on new or leased cars). So I had not had any memorable experiences in Connecticut with the DMV.

My experiences in Wisconsin were fine. At least in Eau Claire, they have a system where you walk up to a machine, and push a button for a number, depending on the type of transaction. Then you sit and wait for your number. No big deal. I may have waited as long as 20 minutes on one occasion.

My experiences in Louisiana started out, well, okay. First of all, you get in a very long line, and then when you get to the head of the line, you get a number depending on the type of transaction. That part took me the better part of an hour, but from then on, it moved very quickly and efficiently. I registered my car and got my license in one trip. Not bad. Maybe I was lucky because in Wisconsin, even if you finance your car, you get the title.

Well, it gets worse. My partner has a leased car which she leased before leaving Minnesota. It took a total of seven trips to the DMV, plus a trip to the car dealer, multiple faxes and phone calls to the car company over the course of 3 months to get her car registered. It seems like Louisiana makes it hard to register a leased car, and to move it from another state. The first time they gave a list of documents. Well, based on using the standard English meaning of the word "or" we thought we had the documents after the visit to the car dealer and the first fax to the car company. But, no, we did not. Another fax to the car company, and more documents sent to us, and we tried again. [Remember, each time, there is the wait in the long line for the number only to be told we are missing documents!] We try a different DMV office, located in our parish, but on the other side of the river. Finding it was an adventure in itself, but....even though it is an official office, they don't do out-of-state transfers or drivers licences! Back to the other DMV office. We get in line again. They say, "You have to have the original title." (This is even though the document they had previously given us said "or a certified copy.") But we say, they won't give us the original. They say, have them send it. We call. We can't ask to have it sent, the DMV has to ask. Another trip. We get them to ask. How will we know it is there? They say to call the toll-free number and ask to be transferred to that office. Off we go. A few days later, we call the toll-free number. "Oh, we can't transfer you. You have to go there in person." Another wait in line, and....they don't have it!

On the final trip, it works! Car registered, plates given, drivers license in hand.

But wait. Then there is the matter of brake tags.

I never would have known if someone had not casually mentioned them. This seems like the biggest boondoggle of all. Each parish has its own rules, some require emissions, some do not. (Thank goodness, Orleans Parish does not.) I visit a local service station which advertises "Brake Tags" and pull up. It costs $20. For this amount they:
  1. Examine registration and insurance card
  2. Check the head lights, tail lights, turn signals
  3. Check the windshield for cracks
  4. Check the windshield wipers
  5. Check the horn
That's it. It is less of a check than what you would have had done in Massachusetts in the 1960s!

Well, my car was done. Having gotten the plates for the other car, we went on Saturday afternoon to get brake tags. Sorry, only do those between 8 am and noon on Saturday (that would be a day when people who work could actually get there). But, they will be doing it on Monday, Memorial Day from 8 am until 4 pm. Monday we pull up at about 9 am. We think all is fine. But wait, it is raining, and they don't do it in the rain or when the pavement is wet. [WTF???] Talk about a scam.

I will say I am puzzled about the brake checks. They are supposed to be done every year. If that is true, why do I follow so many cars which have at least one non-working tail light and/or turn signal (and, no, it is not that they don't use them -- which many don't)? Why do I see so many cars that pass me or that I pass which have cracks all the way across the windshield, and many of them have many cracks?

Definitely counts as, the current terminology on the web goes: FAIL!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Links and miscellany

Somehow, with keeping up on Twitter and blog reading, I seem to have hit "the motherload" today. So, as I sit and wait for the sleep study to begin, here is today's harvest:

27 things to do before a conference. Stephen Abram pointed to this site, which I thought was going to be from him. Chris Brogan looks like someone I know, but in checking out his site, it is clear that I do not know him.

Leaders make the future. Jeff de Cagna of Principled Innovation (a blog I picked up from Mary Ghikas at ALA), did a podcast with the author of this book. There is some good content on the website without listening to the podcast (which I will admit that I have not done).

Stephen Abram also noted an Emmy winning video. Which he picked up from Nancy Dowd's blog about videos.

Google battles Facebook in search. This is a very interesting piece.

EFF on Google Books settlement. Via LIS news, this reproduces most of the text from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Clive Thompson on the future of electronic reading.

Data from the Feds. This looks like a very interesting site. I have not had time to play around with it. I look forward to that and a further report.

Board games and information literacy. My friend Chris Harris, of the Infomancy blog, has written a great article on the relationship of playing board games to information literacy and the AASL information standards.

Summer of Mobile Library Services. Tom Peters has written a great article for ALA Techsource.

Relevancy of Libraries in the Future. This is a thoughtful article from LIS News (I just wish they would give full names of the authors of these longer articles.)

Fiber-Fed Libraries can serve as an agent of recovery. Non-librarian Douglas Streeks has written a great article for

Global CEO Survey. This is a link to Stephen Abram's summary of this annual survey of global CEOs.

Wireless Substitution. Another post from Stephen Abram about the fact that few folks are connected by land lines.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Miscellaneous Library Links & comments

I haven't posted library stuff in a bit. With my new work schedule, I get up before dawn and drive through the dawn (actually, these days, dawn happens while I am still getting ready) to Baton Rouge, hitting the heavy in-bound traffic around 7:30. After a day at work (no blogging there, please) , I hit the road, and the traffic, at about 4:30. If I am lucky, I get back home by 6:15 or so. Then it is dinner and catching up, and bed fairly early -- 9 pm most nights. So, hence the lacunae.

I have been adding tabs to my Firefox windows both at home and work. It is time to clean them up in a miscellaneous post.

Four new search engines to keep an eye on.

ARRA funds for libraries This is an interesting post from Jeff Scott which focuses more on broadband funding in the Recovery Act. He has done some good work here.

Libraries need more Internet speed. Related to the link above, here is the ALA press release about the need for more speed.

Smartphones versus handsets. This is an interesting article on sales trends. I have a feeling reading articles like this that I am not making full use of what is available on my current device (which I HATE!)

Books born digital. Interesting LJ article about trends in book publishing and the trends that librarians need to follow.

Kindle2 and speech software. This is an interesting take on the Kindle debate and the Authors Guild' successful push to get Amazon to disable the speech abilities of the Kindle. If you know someone who is blind, but computer proficient you may well wonder, as I do, what the big deal is. Speech software is nowhere near the same as a book read by a person. (And since I am now a huge listener, I do know!)

For fun. This is from a local public library blog which has a link to a web site which has a video for each of the elements in the periodic table. I love it!

Library leadership and changes. Stephen Abram of Sirsi/Dynix picked this up on his travels. It is a great article which I suggest you click through and save the PDF. Stephen does a great job. The seven imperatives of library leadership may yet get a full post from me.
In library news:
Stupid Library Tricks. This is a great story of bureaucracy run amok! [Thanks again, Stephen.]

Bad news about salaries. I know that library administrators sometimes take a beating on salaries. This LJ article notes both the flatness of the library organization in Seattle, and our cost effectiveness compared with other departments.

The Law of Unintended Consequences, Oprah and KFC. My friend Jessamyn does a great summary here. Last Saturday (May 16, ten days after Jessamyn wrote), I was in a local KFC where they were STILL handing out rain checks for the grilled chicken. (I am glad I wasn't planning on eating grilled chicken!)

Twitter and Libraries. There is a great, link-rich post about how to effectively use Twitter.

Extreme Customer Service. Great article by David Lee King about a library that I knew fairly well in Connecticut. I haven't been there in a number of years, but the philosophy of extreme customer service is one that Library Director Louise Berry has espoused for many years.

Google Books Settlement. I forget where I picked up this link, and I have read a some about the settlement. This is an interesting article about Internet Archive and its view.
That's the wrap-up for now. [And I started this post two days ago, and it took until today to get it up.]

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Food and Language

It has been a bit, and I have posts perking. The next of which will explain the lacunae.

I bought my lunch today at a downtown Baton Rouge sandwich shop. The menu got me to thinking. I got the "Tuna Salad Po' Boy" (only because I had not noticed that they have a pastrami one!).

What is a "po' boy"? The Wikipedia entry says:
A po' boy (also po-boy, po boy, or poor boy) is a traditional submarine sandwich from Louisiana. It almost always consists of meat or seafood, usually fried, served on baguette-like Louisiana French bread.
It goes on to talk about bread, etc.

It seems to me that while in a large number of restaurants, the definition above is correct, it does not seem to be universally true in Louisiana today. My sandwich was on the same type of bread as a sandwich from Subway, or Quiznos, or any number of "mom and pop" sandwich shops. And while I would count tuna salad as meat, and certainly pastrami, neither of those is fried.

I have seen "Italian po' boys" offered which are little different than what I grew up with being called a "grinder." In the New York area, it would have been called a "Hero" (different from a Gyro which is pronounced the same). It is also the same as a "Sub" (and that is the origin of the Subway chain, founded in my former home-town of Bridgeport CT). Indeed, Wikipedia bears this out.

[I guess if I were really inspired, I'd segue into the milkshake/frappe/cabinet discussion...but I need to run.]