Pleasing Some of the People Some of the Time

The Challenger from the Library PC Turf Wars was back in the (corner desk) saddle yesterday. . . and completely ready to explode after screwing up the log-in for another computer--the patrons aren't supposed to log off when they're done, just close any open apps--and then not being able to print what she wanted. The reference librarian who is the computer guru had left for lunch right before I came in.

Two of my co-workers were trying to get the screwed-up computer back online, and were struggling with unclear directions, so I offered to sit down and work through it. Figured it out pretty quickly, so that was good.

Then, I patiently worked with the Challenger on her printing problems. Turns out it was the same old problem--there was a job holding up the queue, and nobody at the circ desk, where the printer is located, seems to understand how to resolve the problem (most often by hitting Continue). The Challenger was getting all flustered from going back and forth from the computer to the printer and coming up with nothing. (Kinda serves her right for picking the computer farthest away from the circ desk.) I often wonder if elderly people, feeling that life is short, get impatient and short-tempered as a result. Or maybe it comes from not feeling well.

Once I brought her print job (jobs--it printed 3x) to her, she was happy as a clam. For the moment, anyway.

So there you have it: I had to fix both problems when nobody else on staff could. I wish word would get around about that sort of successful thing instead of everything I seem to do "wrong."

Well, this afternoon I bought eight pounds of hot dogs, tons o' buns, and chips for the kids' carnival this Saturday. 'Cuz I'm the only one with a warehouse member's card. That oughta make somebody happy with me.


You Gotta Read This Book

Because it was cheaper to fly out of BWI, I took the train from Philly. . . and wound up way early for my flight. Luckily, I had Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to keep me occupied. It was hilarious--I must've been grinning the whole time I was reading it. And the pictures. . . you'd die laughing once you found out what "Kiss Me Deer" means, for example. It's especially enjoyable if you can't stand Mr. Collins.

Plus, it was a great conversation-starter, just as I had guessed. It worked on a middle-aged couple who happened to be sitting next to me in the waiting area at the gate. I went to stash the book in my carry-on when it was getting close to boarding time.

Husband: Wait, can I ask you what book you were just reading?

Me: Oh, it was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Wife: (Laughs) Is it like the original story?

Me: Sort of. (I take it out of my bag to show them.) They put it as co-authored by Jane Austen. It's about 95% of the original story, using Jane Austen's words. . . only England is being attacked by zombies, and the Bennet sisters have been trained in the martial arts to fight them. (Reading the blurb on the back) 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.' (Now the husband is laughing.) Yeah, there's even a fight scene at a party where they team up and kill the zombies.

Wife: We have a teenage daughter--do you think she'd like it?

Me: If she's read the original Pride & Prejudice, she'll appreciate it more. But probably anybody vaguely familiar with the story would like it.

Then we were speculating whether Masterpiece Theatre would do a series on it. I hope so!

(See, even on vacation, I can't stop recommending books.)


Where I've Been

* On vacation all last week

* On an airplane for the first time in seven (7!) years

* Down South

* Visiting friends, including one smiley cutie-pie kiddo & two cats crazed by the catnip toy I brought

* Back at work yesterday, where all the wrongs I did in taking last week off were brought to my attention, repeatedly, replete with evidence of complete (passive-aggressive) neglect of my department

* At Target this morning to soothe my broadsided sensibilities with music and more music

Where I'm going: off to do some resume' work before choir practice


The Good Kind of Busy

Things are a bit hectic around here--in the middle of a million things to get done today, I got a call that I've (mistakenly) been put on the schedule for five hours tonight, so I had to drop my to-do list and run (can't complain because it pays for Father's Day gifts). It was pretty busy at the bookstore--maybe that hailstorm kept people away yesterday?--and now I am tired.

So, not much to say, except that I have a lot going on.

And that these kids are all right.


What I Did Saturday

Wore this dress and these shoes (in hot pink to match the flowers on the dress)

Survived Dad's driving on the scenic route he'd chosen

Got a bit lost because Dad insisted on parking in a lot other than the one the directions said (that was free), and I had trouble finding my school building

Had brunch (O.K., coffee--was feeling nervous) with my family and many other graduates and their families on the front lawn of the school building

Narrowly avoided my former academic advisor (who of course was there to hellllllp. . .)

Introduced myself to a couple of online classmates whose names I recognized as we put our robes on together

Greeted my buddy when she arrived, and helped her with her robe

Stood outside with her as she drank her coffee, waiting to line up

Lined up, then went back inside as it started to pour

Lined up and processed over to the ceremonies for real

Sat through some speeches--most memorable was the speaker who received an honorary doctorate but had to keep hoisting his hood back up as he was talking because it kept creeping down his shoulders as the result of having been put on upside-down. (Made me think of errant bra straps.)

After waiting out the confusion as some classmates (newly minted information professionals, mind you!!!) managed to screw up filing out of our seats, walked onstage, shook hands, got some swag, and smiled pretty for the camera at the end of the stage (incidentally, I expected the professional pics to be the worst and they are AWESOME. I didn't blink or squint. That just might be a real smile on my face. I even have that "invisible wind machine" thing going with the tassel. I need to sell some plasma to buy a package of those photos.)

Sat through the awarding of the bachelor's degrees and dodged the giant beach ball.

Moved my tassel from right to left (although apparently they let me walk in with mine on the right already and it wasn't until after I looked around I realized and made a quick switch).


The ceremony started late and ran long. We were pretty much grungy, sweaty messes by the end from the humidity. I was very happy to have my buddy next to me the whole time--as we had been since we'd met at our very first class. We traded commentary, she picked on the odd classmate in front of us who seemed to be listening to a ballgame the whole time (and with several other classmates left before the ceremony ended--they missed moving their tassels).

I'll spare you the details of how we got lost--again--trying to find the reception for the online students. (Made the mistake of asking someone while wearing my robes--"You're a graduate!" I thew up my hands--I was an online student!) I was in sore need of some rehydration and happily there was ice cold lemonade at the reception, where we hung out for a bit and regrouped. Younger Sister's quote of the day as afterwards we went up a block in order to loop around to get over to the obscure parking lot: "Well, this completes our day of walking around in circles."

As we were crossing the busy street to get to the aforementioned obscure parking lot, some woman stopped at the light put down her car window to call out, "Is graduation today?" I wonder what tipped her off. "Yes!" I called back with smile as I reached the corner. "Congratulations!" she yelled.

Too little time to do a late lunch before my dad had to do this job he accepted (I know, I was incredibly annoyed with him at first and then starving later but it was a favor to a longtime family friend and worked out in the end). Dinner afterwards was worth the wait. It was delicious and I think just finally making it there, and sitting with my family, put me back in the mood I'd had when I'd been walking on the stage. And maybe that really good house merlot and the singer who started doing Sinatra standards by the time we were on coffee and dessert had a little something to do with it, too.

At one point during the ceremony, my buddy leaned over (she's statuesque) and asked, "See you back here for our Ph.D.'s?"

I said I'd think about it. For now, I just wanted to enjoy this achievement.

It was too dark indoors for my dinky digital camera to take any decent pictures, and at one point we were trying to teach my mom how to use it so we'd have a picture of Younger Sister and me together (they're all pretty bad but it's not her fault we took turns blinking). . . she must've accidentally taken a crooked, candid one of me at some point. . . so I did a little work with it on Picnik.

It was a crazy, strange, surreal, awesome day.


The Friday Five: Three Photos, Five Points

1. (Photo 1) Who says $1.99 doesn't buy you fun anymore?

2. (Photo 1) Busy paws now = Excellent nap later.

3. (Photo 2) I've been wondering where the cat goes when the lawn people come with all their noisy machines.

4. (Photo 2) I've also been wondering why I keep finding a stray hair or two in my frying pan when I go to make scrambled eggs.

5. (Photo 3) These toes are ready for walking.

Hope your weekend is fantastic!


Bargains Are Fun

Ashley was giving a low-budget fashion show over at her Little Apartment. So I thought I'd share my successful deals and steals, too. Today at the pet supply store I got a catnip mouse on clearance for $1.47 (originally $4.99). Not just any catnip mouse--when I waved it, still in its wrapper, in front of the cat, she went nuts and almost didn't give me a chance to get it out of the bag. Then she bounced off the walls and played "cat toy baseball" with me. She's a pretty powerful swatter. There are just too many times I wish I had a videocamera. That was some cheap thrills fun.

Also, because it was Employee Appreciation Week at the bookstore, today I got a DVD box set, a few children's picture books (niece and middle nephew love a particular on-demand animation video based on this book--read by Andy Richter!), and this to read on my trip next week. . . for what I would've paid retail for just the box set, before sales tax. Might as well take advantage of the perks while I still have them.

Which reminds me--off to do some work on my resume'. I got a good tip from someone I work with at the bookstore.


Public PC Turf Wars

Background I: The library where I work has about a half-dozen or so computers for patrons to use (once they've signed our Access and Use Policy, of course). They're situated along a row of windows to the left of my desk, pretty much in one long row. A bank, if you will. The end of the bank--and for some reason completely incomprehensible to me--is the prime spot to sit. Seriously, I don't get it. Maybe because you have your back to most of the main area? It's crammed up against the end of my collection's fiction shelves, so I hate it. I hate it even more because my desk is to the right of that corner spot.

Background II: If you know anything about libraries, you know there are "regulars." Some regulars come often for good reasons; some regulars come often for not-quite-as-good reasons. A lot of regulars at my library are computer-user regulars. Sometimes I swear they think they own the place. On top of that, they think they can impose their own rules and standards, and everyone has to abide by them.

These things combined are like combustible ingredients, and there was a minor dust-up this afternoon.

The defending champion: Sour-faced older female regular who, as far as I can tell, is job-hunting and currently unemployed. She usually is at the computer for hours on end, often until we make the announcment we're closing, and likes to socialize with her other regular buddies, most of whom are elderly men.

The challenger: Flaky elderly woman--looked familiar to me but not quite enough to call her a regular.

Round I: Shortly after I sit down to my desk in the afternoon, I see Champ take the corner computer, do some work, pick up her purse, and walk away. I thought that was odd, as that was a short session for her. Thought no more of it because I had an article to finish writing.

Round II: A few minutes later, Challenger walks past a bunch of PCs not in use along the bank to go to the corner one (natch). She gets my attention and asks if anyone's using that computer. Apparently there was still a browser screen open. I said that there had been, but that she had gotten up, so I didn't know. I'm not the computer police, so I left the decision in her hands. She sits down and starts using the computer.

Round III: Shortly thereafter, Champ comes storming up and starts laying into the Challenger: "I was using that computer! Didn't you see something on the screen? I was just in the bathroom!" Challenger seems unmoved. "There was something there, but I closed it." This infuriates Champ even more. "Oh, so it's gone now." It's a freaking web page, probably the same sites she looks at all the time. It's still where its address says it is, you drama queen. Maybe if you tried keeping a cool head and projecting a little more competency with computers, you could kick some interview butt.
Challenger is not getting up. I'm not even sure she apologized, but that's because I was trying to pay attention to my supervisor while she talked to me about something important with her back turned to the whole catfight.

I was dying. I almost was hoping it would get shrill and make my supervisor turn around. The Champ defeated, she shuffled down to another computer at the far end of the bank, muttering the entire way. "Can't even go to the bathroom. . . someone takes your computer." She bitched for about five minutes straight, in spite of the fact that she was zooming along on another computer and probably right back where she'd left off. There was no way I was giving her any eye contact, because that would dignify the whole childish event. Later, I noticed her bugging the poor kid on the computer next to her, telling him he was to ward off anyone trying to use her computer as she went to get up again.

First off, lady: It's not your computer.

Second: It's sinking pretty low to order a kid who doesn't know you to guard "your" computer.

Third: People forget to close windows when they're done with the computers all the time. You should be familiar with that, as a regular--and you've probably had to close things yourself upon arrival at "your" computer on at least one occasion. If it's that important to you, either don't get up or bring a notepad or something with you to leave in place while you go. You know, to make people think you're actually doing something there. It's not that hard of an idea to come up with.

I really, really want her to get a job. Maybe she'd be happier then.

Also, director or no director, that renovation has got to happen next year or it's just going to get uglier with those computers.


The White Library Knight. . .

. . . apparently will not be keeper of this biblio-castle.

I worked until closing tonight, with the assistant children's librarian and the head of youth services (a.k.a. more or less the person to whom I answer), and as we're shutting down the computers at the circulation desk, she tells us to expect an e-mail from the library board regarding our no-show-due-to-illness new director.

We're going to be instructed to tell anyone who asks that the person we'd announced as our new director (back in late March) is no longer associated with the library.

How much does that suck?

The temporary director who'd been there since late last summer and left in April will be returning, on an as-needed basis, to help out. It was a great help to have him, and he will be a great help when he's there, but it's no substitute for a real, permanent director.

I mean, I don't think this is anything anyone could have foreseen, and it just turned out this way. In some way I think many of us feared this announcement was coming for a while now and just didn't know when. We just don't know what it means, other than to carry on the way we have been--the way I'm learning to tolerate, in some respects.

It just feels a bit disheartening, at least to me. For all I know, other people are happy about it, about going on the same way (no changes--remember, hiring me lowered the average age of the staff to 60), not having to deal with a new leader's style (especially if they weren't crazy about the person in the first place). But I'm kinda bummed. It's hard to develop a relationship with someone temporary--and I didn't, too much, the first time around. For one thing, we were hardly there at the same time, most of the time.

I'll try to develop it more this time. I really need to do that. My hopes have been a bit crushed, but maybe I can salvage something out of this raw deal.


Dewey Know Me at All?

Via Nina:

I'm either this one:

Kate P's Dewey Decimal Section:

166 Syllogisms

Kate P = 11056 = 110+56 = 166

100 Philosophy & Psychology

Books on metaphysics, logic, ethics and philosophy.

What it says about you:
You're a careful thinker, but your life can be complicated and hard for others to understand at times. You try to explain things and strive to express yourself.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at Spacefem.com

(And to think, I nearly failed Logic as an undergrad. Loved studying Metaphysics, though.)

. . . or this one:

Kate P's Dewey Decimal Section:

018 Catalogs arranged by author, date, etc.

000 Computer Science, Information & General Works

Encyclopedias, magazines, journals and books with quotations.

What it says about you:
You are very informative and up to date. You're working on living in the here and now, not the past. You go through a lot of changes. When you make a decision you can be very sure of yourself, maybe even stubborn, but your friends appreciate your honesty and resolve.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at Spacefem.com

Information!? Get outta here. Stubborn!? Naaaah. Living in the here and now. . . not quite there yet. But I hope to get there.


YES, It's the Friday Five

Sorry I've been kinda absent from the blog, outside of college bookstore runs. I also had IE crash on me in the middle of writing and surfing, so constructing this post took some extra time!

Lately I've just felt kinda out of sync with the world. Does anybody else ever get that? I'm coming in, everyone else is going out. All the movies I requested from the library came in at once--the day after I went to the video rental place. I wasn't expecting that. Also wasn't expecting to watch "Tommy" and "Last Chance Harvey" back-to-back. (Just FYI--"Tommy" was something I was considering for a movie to show at the teens' tie-dyeing event. But I think they might go with this or even this instead.)

At the end of the "new movies" section in the video store was "Yes Man." Saw that in the theaters in January and kinda liked it. When I saw the title, it reminded me that while I do feel a lot of "No" around me (no good jobs available, no sunlight--it's been raining since Tuesday, no lack of mindgames at work), I have a lot of things to say YES to. As in, "Yes, I'll have some of that please," or, "Yes--that is awesome!" Here are my five YES things this week:

1. Gardeners' bounty. Maybe because we've had so much darn rain, everyone's gardens are super happy. Someone at the library brought in a ton of mint leaves and, well, I got the leftovers at the end of the night. Not that I'm complaining. I threw some into iced tea, and made mojitos (from a book Younger Sister gave me) tonight to enjoy with one of my (many) videos.

2. My iPod. Sure, I don't have a lot of music loaded--yet--but there was enough to carry me as I took on my first public workout in a long time on Tuesday. It got my mind off being in the park and got me moving really, really fast. Fast enough to beat the downpour.

3. Free used books! One of the perks of working at the library is getting first crack at the used books donated for the semiannual book sale. Tonight as I was wrapping things up after my teen council meeting, I got this (recently mentioned by Sheila) and this (recently mentioned by Seraphic). Not sure when I'm going to read them, but it was exciting to find them.

4. Hoagiefest is here again!!! (It's a regional thing, you might not understand. . .)

5. Hilarious conversations overheard at the bookstore. Tracey overheard one not too long ago, and last night, my co-worker pulled me aside so we both could have a laugh when this girl, about nine or ten, was trailing her mother and her older sister through the store, animatedly chattering the entire way, and all we heard as they passed the customer service desk was her exclaiming, "I thought I had a concussion!" Sooo dramatic. You seem fine except for the chattiness, honey.

Now, back to one of those videos. Hope everyone has a great weekend!


A Trip to the Campus Bookstore

The Weather: Uncooperative. If it wasn't raining, it threatened to rain at any moment. Not fun to drive in, and if I had to walk far, not fun for walking, either.

The Traffic: Ridiculous. You'd think drivers hadn't seen pedestrians before. And if you don't know how to deal with pedestrians, you should stay far away from a college campus.

The Parking: Weird! I scored a great parking space about half a block from the campus bookstore. . . only to have the parking meter eat six quarters and then spaz out into a blinking "See time limit/Out of order" frenzy. I bit the bullet and hurried myself down to the bookstore.

The Mission: Show my I.D., tell the cashier my height, and pick up these:

Needs a good pressing, I think.
And for the life of me, I can't understand the directions on how to turn the hood out where.

I am really excited now.

Oh, and guess who didn't move a whisker?

"Suzy Becker says it's O.K. to wear the same thing every day.
I don't get you humans."


Why Grocery Shopping for One Takes an Hour

Scene: Health section of the grocery store, first aid aisle. I'm standing there, scanning rows of boxes. A grocery store dude walks by and recognizes that "lost" look.

Grocery Store Dude: Anything I can help you find?
Me: Um, yeah--just regular band-aids?

It took him a minute to figure out which box had plain ones. Seriously, have you seen all the different kinds they make? Sensitive, antibiotic, soft, weird shapes. . .

I just need the rectangles, please. I don't have fancy boo-boos.