Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More Things I Have Learned

This is our crazy busy season at the library. Things have been complicated by the fact that one staff member got shingles last month and that I am gone for half of this month at various conferences and meetings and oh yes, helping my mother move.

However, all this chaos has been very educational. Things I've learned this month include:

  • If you buy one head of lettuce, one tomato, one cucmber, and twenty-two large bottles of salad dressing, the checkout lady at Wal-Mart gives you a very strange look. When you pay for all this with a business credit card, the look gets even stranger.
  • Our patrons are an unflappable bunch. When a procession of library staff marches through the computer area carrying carving knives, no one even blinks. They do seem a little more aware of the staff member carrying the HUMONGOUS bowl containing enough lettuce for a hundred people, though. I wouldn't go so far as to say that they were actually startled, or even interested, by this, however.
  • Librarians - or maybe just library school grad students - are a bloodthirsty bunch. If you post a message about a sword to a listserv, you get fifty responses in fifteen minutes. Some of them will be from other libraries wanting a nice big sword to hang over the circulation desk.
  • Legal advice is better when it's free, but the little old ladies who frequent the library think it is best when delivered by a good-looking male lawyer. (Actual quote from an evaluation form: "Very informative and knowledgeable. Also good-looking.")
  • The general public does not seem at all perturbed to see their librarian roaming around in a t-shirt with the logo of The Guild of Radical Militant Librarians. They are much more bothered by giant temporary tattoos of sparkly fairies with purple wings applied to the librarian's face.
I will be taking a brief break from the insanity here to head off to a conference in Charleston this week, where I plan to use my avoiding-work-while-looking-busy skills to duck out of the more boring sessions and go on a search for pants that fit. I will then head to Columbia to help unload boxes for my mother - and incidentally try and find a new home for that sword. Which leads me to one final lesson from this month:
  • You really should clean out your closet often enough not to be completely baffled by the things you find in it. Like the bundle of swords and box of knives and daggers in the back corner.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

[Foodie] Meme

Okay, this one made me laugh (I saw it at Married...With Dinner):

1. Pick up the nearest [foodie] book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag 5 other people* and acknowledge who tagged you.

So, here goes. I decided (since I am sitting at my desk at the moment) to ignore the thousand or so foodie books out front and see if there were any in the bags in the workroom. Which there was.

Unfortunately, there aren't any words on page 123 of Hello, Cupcake! And the page before it has a list of ingredients. But it's a fun book anyway. Even if it does have me craving cupcakes.

This meme reminds me of the essay question on the UC application, which gave quotes from certain pages in a particular book and asked you to write something using them all. And if you didn't like those quotes, you could use quotes from the same page numbers in the book of your choice. (And no, before you ask, I did not choose that essay option. I don't remember what the heck I wrote about, but I know it required a lot less effort than that.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I never thought I would see the day that Chesterfield County was in the national news. And I really never thought it would be because of this.

Things I Learned Last Weekend

  • Purple frosting is harder to make than you might think.
  • You can't expect a bunch of kids to sit still for more than thirty seconds. Just leave the movie playing and accept the chaos.
  • When putting sprinkles on five dozen cupcakes, put the cupcakes in the sink first. Sprinkles have amazing and mysterious aerodynamic properties that cause them to end up everywhere if not carefully contained. (See picture above for the results of sprinkles properly contained.)
  • The color pink has a sneaking fascination for every girl everywhere.
  • There is absolutely nothing that should not be in a librarian's job description. Give "pony rides" to shrieking little girls? Check. Simultaneously keep an eye on ten preteens with bottles of colored sand and ponder the question of what on earth makes Patrick Dempsey so popular? Check. Bake and frost five dozen cupcakes? Check.
  • There is a princess for everyone. (We had a Mulan, a Belle, a Cinderella, a Sleeping Beauty, two Jasmines, a Tinkerbell (we'll leave aside the question of whether she is actually a princess), and three generic princesses in attendance on Saturday.)
  • Everyone should have a tiara. (Mine is purple - thanks G!)
  • If you're going to bake and frost five dozen cupcakes, you really ought to do it more than twelve hours before Passover begins. And not schedule a Princess Party between the baking and sunset.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On being a historian

Well, the footnotes are done.

Now, if I can just get the historiography added to the introduction.

And do something about my tendency towards passive dating style in my citations. (Passive dating style. No kidding. I didn't even know there was such a thing, but if David Carr says my dating is passive, then it must be passive.)

And if The Historian actually accepts this for publication this time around, it might even be worth it.

Friday, February 22, 2008


From my friend Shay's blog (which is here):

I was recently asked the question: Name three celebrities (alive) who you would like to meet and three celebrities (deceased) that you would have liked to meet and the reasons why for each one.

First the alive group:

Shay and I agree on Vincent D'Onofrio, at any rate. The man is brilliantly talented, and also the cause of much useless speculation which keeps me entertained between meetings (and sometimes during them).

The ladies over at RBEB would think that Robert Beltran ought to be on my list - which he would be if only so I could ask him why on earth, with his talent, he appears on-screen so little. If I could actually act I would be flaunting that talent to everyone who held still long enough. (And now aren't you all glad that I can't?)

And then, er, how about James Billington? Okay, so he isn't a celebrity outside of my little world. But I mean, come on, the Librarian of Congress! I need to meet him and then hold him hostage until he agrees to name me as his successor, or something. Or maybe just toss him out the nearest window and casually take over his job. Do you think anyone would notice?

And three dead celebrities:

Do presidents count? Because I've always wanted to meet Martin Van Buren. I know, trust me to choose a president no one has ever heard of for my favorite. But just look at his portraits. There was a man who was not afraid to stand out in a crowd.

Katharine Hepburn. I don't think I would have liked her much, but I admire her tenacity. And I want to thank her for playing the only non-frumpy, non-bun-wearing librarian in all of moviedom, in Desk Set. (Not to mention for her performance in The Lion In Winter, which is one of my all-time favorites.)

And let's see. A third one. Er... uh-oh. I think I'm stuck. How about Jane Austen? Or Charlotte Bronte? Or better yet, her sisters. Or Charles Dickens. Or...

Yup, it's official. I am such a library geek. Sigh.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hard Choices Ahead

We learned this morning that state funding for libraries will definitely be cut. We just don't know by how much yet. The legislature is cutting all state agencies by 2.5%, we think, and then the State Library has to figure out how to absorb those cuts.

With any luck we'll only have to close a branch or two, not cut staff. But we're going to have some challenges keeping new books on the shelves and the computers working without the full funding we get from the state.

Not to mention the little matter of my salary.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Privilege Meme

I got the meme from my friend Cami over at Heidelbergerin. It was developed for a research project (and copyrighted) by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University (see their project’s website here). They ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright if you use this meme.

Bold the true statements.

1. Father went to college.

2. Father finished college.

3. Mother went to college.

4. Mother finished college.

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
(I'm not sure about this one - my mother was a professor in a junior college for a while.)

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home. (Despite my best efforts, no. Although if I had been allowed to I would have brought that many home from the public library.)

9. Were read children’s books by a parent. (Not to mention economics textbooks, classics, and whatever else was lying around. The reading-to-the-kid thing was more about what the adults were interested in than what I wanted to hear. Which is probably why I learned to read so fast.)

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18.

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18. (Art, horseback riding, oboe and clarinet, ballet...)

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively. (Well, like I do now, yes. If you can get past the stereotypes of librarians, that is.)

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18.

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs.

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs.

16. Went to a private high school. (Not that it seemed much like a privilege at the time.)

17. Went to summer camp. (My parents had to do something with me while they were at Annual Training every summer!)

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18.

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels. (Sometimes. Most of them involved campgrounds, military guest housing, and staying with relatives, but anyway.)

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18.

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them.

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child. (I'm not sure if the needlework my mother did counts or not.)

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house.

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home.

25. You had your own room as a child.

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18. (I still don't have a phone in my room, unless I bring the cell phone in there with me.)

27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course.

28. Had your own TV in your room in high school.

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16. (I went to boarding school. How else was I supposed to get home?)

31. Went on a cruise with your family.

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family.

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up.

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.

So what's that, nineteen out of thirty-four? I guess I must be privileged. Something to keep in mind the next time I turn green when someone with a better car or a better job or a better bank account crosses my path.