Thursday, August 14, 2003

So Many Interests, So Little Time
I have been fascinated with mechanical phonographs since I was a child. I was haunted by tales that my great-grandfather had a Victrola. After his death, I went to visit the great-aunt that had lived with him, to ask what had become of it. Unfortunately, some other relative, not even as closely related as me, had already taken it.
When I became older and began to collect records, I not only began to amass L.P.'s and 45's, but 78 rpm records as well. At an estate sale in 1989 I got a great bargain: A late 1950's Philco hi-fi in perfect working order. It cost one dollar. It's a weird creature, a Philco, but with a Gerrard turntable, and the whole unit was made in England. This is the machine I listen to 78's on.
However, in recent years, I have become fascinated with something called the Orthophonic Victrola. In the mid-1920's, Victor Records began recording music with microphones, instead of the musicians just playing into a big horn. The quality of the recording was far better than before. So technicians began to experiment to build a phonograph which could reproduce the higher quality sound. They discovered that a phonograph horn seven feet long produced the most accurate sound. So they began to experiment to find a way to fit a seven foot horn into a realistically-sized piece of home furnishing. The result was the Orthophonic Victrola. Here, if you scroll down a bit, you can see diagrams comparing the older horn style and the Orthophonic.
Some these machines were pretty elaborate, with big fancy cabinets and oranate carvings. Some had electric turntable motors, even though the amplification was still mechanical. They are supposed to sound amazing - I mean, not as good as your CD player, of course - but I have never heard one.
If I had a wish list, and if it was possible to put such a thing on my wish list, an Orthophonic would be right up front.
Oh, yeah, the name is another of these latter-day-created words from Greek roots (but at least, it's all Greek). It means "straight" or "correct sound."

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Fun With Legal Research
My boss forwarded me an e-mail from a professor's secretary, saying she needed the following material asap.
This is the list:
Thomas Franck, Lessons of the Failure of NIEO, in International Law and Development, Canadian Council on International Law, Proceedings, XV Annual Conference, 1986, p. 82-100 Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, UN General Assembly Resolution of 1 May 1974 (in The Emerging International Law of Development, F.V. Garcia-Amador, 1990, Appendix, p. 227-232)
When I first saw that I wanted to rip all my hair out. I thought it was about five things, and that the secretary had copied and pasted a list from another e-mail into hers, destroying the lay-out of a list.
Just then the assistant director came to ask me something, and I was a little short with him. I explained I had just gotten this monster list of requests.
He looked it over, and said, "Well, this first thing looks like a book . . . No, you're right, it's probably a journal article . . . Hmmm, some of this is tricky. I think we only have UN resolutions on microfiche . . .
Eventually he conluded that it was, in fact, only a list of three items.
After running titles through the catalogue I realised it was only a list of two items, with way too much extra information thrown in.
I mentioned it to my boss. She said she'd never bothered to read it; she'd assumed it was a single item.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I left four messages for my landlord today. He finally called a little bit ago. We made an appointment to meet Friday at noon so he can give me the new key. I could tell he was pretty annoyed at my persistence, but it was the only way to get him to respond.

Odd . . .
It's possible to log in to Hotmail through Netscape Navigator but not through Internet Explorer. And this website won't let me post anything when I use Explorer. I heard there was a virus around . . . .

It Begins
Faculty have started bringing stuff in to go on reserve. People who are probably new students have started wandering around looking lost. I've noticed that new students don't know who anybody is, so they're nice and respectful to everybody. Later in the year, when they know I'm just some guy who works in the library, they stop.
I have called my landlord and left messages twice so far today about moving into the new apartment. I intend to keep calling every two hours or so. It's also occurred to me to show up at his house.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Heard on NPR
I heard a piece about the rare book school at the University of Virginia on "All Things Considered" yesterday. This may very well be in my future, so I was interested to hear it. Perhaps you are interested as well. More here.