When you use a candle, what exactly is burning? the wick? the wax? both? If the wax is acting as fuel for the wick, why can’t wax ignite when you hold a match up to it? It only melts.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica Online (http://search.eb.com/bol/topic?eu=20258&sctn=1#s_top; 8-22-01), “In use, heat from the flame liquefies the wax near the base of the wick. The liquid flows upward by capillary action, then is vaporized by the heat. The flame is the combustion of the wax vapour.” The EB is one of the hundreds of databases offered through the Duke Library (access limited to members of the Duke Community); we even have some print copies here and there!

What Price Glory?

Amazon.com has the VHS on sale for $13.99; the DVD (Special Edition) is $25.49. Barnes&Noble has them for $12.99 and $24.99. (8-22-01)


Because we are milking them for everything we can get.

I’ve noticed that “food” and “drink” are prohibited in the library stacks. But what about a cup of ice? As far as I can tell ice isn’t nutritious enough to be “food” but not liquid enough to be a “drink.” Can the signs in the foyer be clarified to resolve this dilemma?

Do you think if we changed the signs anyone would heed or read them? Ice is indeed not a food, but watch out that it doesn’t melt, lest it become a drink (and vicious destroyer of books).

Is there any chance that my girlfriends (who claim to, and I think do, love each other), will stay together indefinitely?

[Anonymous sage? wrote “No.”]

Answer person disagrees. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, available through our online access to Encyclopedia Britannica, “indefinite” is defined as:

: not definite: as a : typically designating an unidentified, generic, or unfamiliar person or thing <the indefinite articles a and an> <indefinite pronouns> b : not precise : VAGUE c : having no exact limits d of floral organs : numerous and difficult to ascertain in number

You can be certain they will be together for a period of time that is neither definite nor precise.

There is some sort of dead bug in the spine of the suggestion book binder. It appears to be a small spider or something similar. Could you tell me the genus and species? More importantly, perhaps, will you?

There are many consequences for letting this book go for so long. I lose sleep at night, I know my fans have long since tired of summer reruns, and I have so much wisdom to impart in such a short time. Occasionally, however, there are benefits. I won’t tell you the genus and species, because I can’t: he/she has apparently departed (again, apparently).

Why can’t the guys get a decent sized bathroom here on the first floor of Perkins? Then little one we have is always nasty, smells bad, and occupied. The girls have a couch in theirs! What ever happened to gender equality?

Now that’s the kind of constructive feedback we need form our users, as we plan to renovation of Perkins Library! See the committee’s website at http://staff.lib.duke.edu/renovation/.

The pen has been gone since 2936C. Get a new one, something cheap and unadmired.

Answer Person is happy to supply one, but I don’t think that fashionability of writing instruments is a major concern of the average Duke library user. Let’s see how long this one holds up against needs and greeds.

I’m sure many good folk have asked you the meaning of life. I’m not worried about that, I solved it six years ago in an alcoholic daze–I just forgot to write it down. What concerns me now is the question, what is the meaning of cheese?

Once again (see 2960A) I go to the Merriam Webster:

1. cheese — noun 1 a : a food consisting of the coagulated, compressed, and usually ripened curd of milk separated from the whey b : an often cylindrical cake of this food; 2 : something resembling cheese in shape or consistency; 2cheese — transitive verb : to put an end to : STOP – cheese it — used in the imperative as a warning of danger <cheese it, the cops>; 3cheese — noun slang : someone important

Why do Duke buses have a “Buckle up” sign if there are no seat belts?

[Another anonymous sage? wrote “Duke kids are smart; they are for the cars nimrod.]

Answer Person also suspects another Federal program gone awry; as in, funding ended after signs were installed but before seat belts could be bought. (Not really, but it could be true.)

Why do I lose 10 yrs off my life by coming into the library. I have to walk by all those ignorant smokers. 2nd hand smoke is worse than 1st hand. Look it up/ I though you guys were smart.

Answer Person believes that most smokers are victims of their habits and are not (as implied by the unsolicited reply above) homicidal maniacs. They are smart enough to know that if they did want to kill you, there are faster ways that provide more immediate and direct satisfaction to the murderer. Answer Person can remember a time when smokers were not resented and pitied as they are now; in time, more will see the light. Others will kill themselves off . . . hopefully, before they kill you.

I demand that you eliminate your Subbasement . . . It is Hellll! I don’t want to write any more linguistics papers.?

Perhaps another suggestion for the Perkins Renovation Committee (see 2960C). I suspect that the subbasement is not really the issue; if it were eliminated we would move linguistics materials to a higher floor, but they would still be there. A cheaper alternative would be for you to change majors.

How many “all your base[?]” jokes have been made in this book to date? Come to think of it, where are the dates on these questions? And why is it dark?

  1. Answer person has a basic aversion to the current need to quantify all aspects of our lives, and is thus reluctant to count questions of any kind, or even to count anything.
  2. Well, I can number things. As to dates, these questions are timeless.
  3. There isn’t enough light.

How will my date go tomorrow night?

Once again the inattention of Answer Person has left a question unattended until the answer is meaningless. For historical purposes, however, would you please document how it went?

Who is the author of this quote? “Books support us in our solitude and keep us from being a burden to ourselves?

[Another anonymous sage? wrote “Jeremy Collier (1650-1726) Someone wants a discount at the Gothic [Bookshop]!”

There is a great “Books & Reading” quotations page at http://www.geocities.com/quotegarden/books.html.

In addition to Collier’s line, you will also find lines like: ” A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone” (Jo Godwin) and “Never judge a book by its movie” (J.W. Eagan).

What causes the color variations in the library carpet? (Mere foot traffic just doesn’t explain it)

The dye from book covers drips off from tomes soaked by users’ water, sodas, coffee and tequila.

Why the hell do you not just install Mulberry on the campus computers inside the library? Everyone just use myduke.com anyway?

Because everyone uses www.myduke.com anyway. With all the specialized resources we have to accommodate, you should be thankful we don’t clogged up the works with yet another program!

Why is the lib not open 24 hrs?

Uh, because the after closing the staff has gone home and the doors are locked. The library is open 24 hours a day during high demand periods, at the end of the fall and spring semesters, but there hasn’t been enough need at other times — nor money to fund that level of service.

Why doesn’t anything work here? The printers are always broke or out of toner. I just tried to use the microfiche, and after sitting at two machines and loading the film, the printers were both broken, with no sign to indicate this. It took almost 30 min just to find a working machine. This is frustrating and a waste of my time. Please do something about this!!

As if microfilm wasn’t already difficult enough! Actually, when you consider the number of computers, copiers, printers and other machines (e.g., fiche reader/printers) we have in the library, no other place on campus comes close in the level of technological devices we offer. We will make an effort to keep everything running, but PLEASE let the staff in the department know when you encounter a problem.

The library should be open 24 hours a day all year long.

See 2964B.

What’s the surest way to kick those momentary jitters? A shot of Jim Beam, a cold bath, Vic’s Vapo Rub? Suggestions?

Get a handle on stress. Stress is how our body responds to the many demands in the world around us. Stress can be positive (ustress) that makes us feel energized and productive or stress can be negative (distress) when we feel overwhelmed and fatigued. We may not be able to control the amount of stress in our life, but we can control how we react to it.

See Live for Life’s STRESS/MENTAL HEALTH page www.hr.duke.edu/eohs/livelife/healthlinks.htm#STRESS / MENTAL):
Duke Personal Assistance Service http://www.hr.duke.edu/eohs/pas/pasfaq.html
American Psychological Association www.apa.org/
National Institutes of Mental Health www.nimh.nih.gov
Simple Living Network http://www.simpleliving.net/default.asp

If man feels that “There is no fate but what we mnake,” why must we di what everyone tells us or be labelled a rebel?

Perhaps one’s fate is to be labelled a rebel. On the other hand, it is impossible to do “what everyone tells us” because “everyone” tells us different things. They can’t agree on what you should do, or they should do. Does this mean we should do nothing that anyone tells us, because then someone will feel us rebellious? Or is it a matter of choosing those we wish to follow, so that when labeled a rebel, we are not alone? You chose to ask this question; did someone tell you to do this, or, as I suspect, you made your own choice? You rebel, you!

How come UVA is so much better than Duke? What’s wrong with you people?

Let’s look at how UVA might be better than Duke, and analyze the import of each point:

  1. It is more northerly than Duke. True, but that just means harsher winters.
  2. It is older than Duke. And you thought Duke was burdened by ancient traditions!
  3. It is on the periphery of the ACC. Yes, Duke is stuck at its center (in so many ways).
  4. Its basketball arena is not cluttered with national championship banners. We’ll live with that one.
  5. A “Cavalier” attitude to life, to learning, to research, etc. We’ll settle for a Devilish approach.

What is the motivation behind having students check books out? Grads too. At least 50% of them check out huge stacks & return them immediately. Also, at Lilly people will check out 3 or 4 movies and return them within an hour. Why?

Those are very interesting statistics! Have you been monitoring circulation desk activity (at two libraries!) for long? Are you sure they are the same people? Are you sure they are returning the same books and the same videos? Does this trouble you? Would you rather they keep the materials out of circulation even longer? Do you wish you could read that fast, or “get” movies as they shoot by in fast-forward?

How hard is it really to write a bestseller? I don’t want to ask R. Price.

Understanding that “bestseller” does not always mean a “good book,” the difficulty varies with authors, their styles, the good luck of hitting the right need at the right time, the advertising budget of the publishing company, and how much you factor in years of unpublished manuscripts.

On 2936C The Answer person wrote “greatness cost more.” Do you think your grammer[!!] is a good example for the students and hundreds of little kids that read the “Suggestion Book” every day?

OK, OK. (Or, Okay, Okay.) It could be because Bill Gates never graduated from Harvard, preferring instead to make billions of dollars. So he foisted upon us a grammar checker that doesn’t pick up Answer Person’s tpyos, spelling erorrs, or grammaticalized mistakes.

If you are worried about little kids reading the Suggestion Book every day, there are bigger issues than Answer person’s grammar and typos.