Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Need a Beer!

Two building evacuations in one week! First the earthquake and then about 12:30 this afternoon a kid walked in and said "It's like a waterfall outside." I walked out and saw this cascade of water coming down. At first I couldn't tell where it was coming from, I thought maybe a pipe had burst on roof but then someone pointed to where the fire hydrant used to be. Apparently someone backed over it. I have since learned that fire hydrants are made to snap off because they don't want the underground piping to be damaged. Wow! What a display!
I then noticed that water was flowing pretty heavy and was likely to enter the building through the front doors and was probably already entering through the meeting room door. As I flashed back to my last experience of water entering a building--the University of Hawaii flood of 2004--I decided I needed to evacuate the library. I called our Regional office and got the OK. The next 30 minutes until the water was shut off was spent coordinating with the firemen (cute by the way) trying to minimize the potential damage. The rugs in the meeting room were already getting wet so we used one to block the meeting room door and one more to block the patio door where water was coming into the children's area onto the carpet. We then unplugged the computers and taped the cords to the table to keep them from getting wet. I then asked another librarian to locate the breaker box to shut off the breakers for the computers. I asked the Library Assistant to take photos to document the damage. And I called the Regional office about a gazillion times to get everything coordinated.
Oh, by the way there was a program today. I reopened the library and then began another evacuation as new information about the a/c & sprinkler system filtered through and just as I started the second evacuation, updates came that both were back in working order. Evacuation aborted. In the mean time I had the children's librarian cancel the program, then let the performer know that maybe we would have it and another call that we would be having it after all. With areas properly taped off, the meeting room closed and the children's area cleared out for the program all went well.
I filed all my reports, sent photos off to people who might need them. I have a great team that worked well together that made the situation better than could be expected. Yet, I am drained and called J to see if he will go have a beer with me tonight. Bless him, he said yes.
But, I have to say that I am now qualified to say which kind of problem I would prefer to deal with--water or an earthquake and I definitely prefer the water. Kind of strange seeing as I am an aquaphobe.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

LA Rock n' Rolls in the AM

About 11:45 I was helping a customer in the copy room. I felt a bit of a bump and notice the copy kiosk shake by the time I processed "Was that an earthquake?" another much stonger wave answered my question. The rolling stopped about 10-15 seconds. I asked the assistant to call our regional office while I went on the PA system to ask people to please duck under a table in the event an aftershock occurred.
We were given instructions to evacuate the building to check for damage. There was none and ten minutes later everything was back to business as usual but I had several reports to fill out.
I really don't like natural disasters. I have experienced a big tornado, big flood, big typhoon, several smalled earthquakes and to tell the truth none of them were any fun. Natural disasters bad and very low on the fun index. Although, I do have to admit a minor typhoon is kind of fun.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Child's Play

Last week I heard a radio-story that children are losing their ability to imagine because so many toys today are designed to limit creativity. The latest Batman toy has all the bells and whistles that that you turn on and it preforms for you. Gone are the days of rolling a wire hoop down the street--Ok so those days were gone before I was born but still.
I remember when I was about 9 years old our TV went out for one or two weeks. At first we were really bummed--and we only had three channels when the weather was good, too. But my older brother Rick made up a bunch of games for me and little brother to play. Rick was always really good at making the best of bad situations. We were so glad when the TV came back but 30 years later I remember how much fun we had making stuff up.
Today I was at the mall having lunch before going on to work. There were three under 3's finishing up their food. While their moms were still eating they decided to make a game out of running back and forth about 5 feet between my cafe table and Arby's counter. It was fun to see their fun and giggles. Their mom looked at me and said "to think we spend so much money on expensive toys." And she is right, really expensive toys and gadgets really take the fun out fun.
One of the most joy filled days I have ever had involved an empty train station and a set of bouncy balls. When I lived in Hamada, Japan, my friends J & K and I decided to spend a Sunday afternoon at the beach. Instead of going to my normal beach which required scooters that they did not have, we took the train to one further afield. The weather ended up turning on us so we had to make a mad dash back to the little one room train station. The next train back to Hamada wasn't scheduled to return for another 2 hours. Of all things, J just happened to have a pocket full of bouncy balls. This just goes to show you that you never know what a guy in his twenties might have in his pocket. We spent the next two hours ricocheting balls around the train station. I think we might have also frightened off an oobaa-san (grandmother)--those crazy foreigners you know. But of all the truly amazing adventures I have had in my adult life, that rainy afternoon bouncing balls in a train station still ranks among the best.
Money really doesn't buy happiness. Using your imagination does. And we are doing our kids a dis-service by taking that away. Yes, I know the person who has taken her genes out of the pool probably shouldn't be dispense parenting advice but what the Hell. I just did. Take it as you may.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Baby Mouse and Maus

For the adult summer reading game at the library one of the things the patrons are asked to read is a graphic novel. Graphic novels and manga (Japanese comic books) have become more mainstream in the last few years. Movies like Tom Hank's Road to Perdition, Sin City, and others began as a graphic novel.
As a kid in the 70's I was no stranger to comic books. Hefty who worked at Texaco with my dad would give my brothers and me all his comic books when he was finished. I really looked forward to new editions. Hot Stuff was one of my favorites but I also remember that there were some war comics as well that kind of scared the 7 year old me. So I guess I have always thought that comic books were not just for kids.
But since I was a kid, I haven't been into comic books very much, so when people ask me to recommend a good graphic novel I find myself offering up one of two choices. Choices that have only one thing in common--mice. Both comics have mice as the main characters. Baby Mouse is by Jennifer (writer) and Matthew (illustrator) Holms. Baby Mouse is fun, funny and just wants straight whiskers. Most of us can identify with Baby Mouse. This series is aimed at the younger set--3rd and 4th graders but if you pick up a copy, I promise you that you will enjoy it.
The other end of the spectrum is Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Speigelman. Maus recounts the story of Speigelman's father during the Holocaust. In 1992 it won a Special Pulitzer Prize Award--that is how good it is. For some reason graphic novels are very good at tapping into our raw emotions and bypassing the analytical mind. Maus hits hard and is extremely powerful. Read this one when you need a dose of humanity.
With Comicon this week in San Diego, I thought an entry on graphic novels were in order. I know I need to expand my horizons in this genre but I do feel that I have encounter some of the best. But then again maybe there is much more out there that I haven't discovered yet.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What I Have Been Reading Lately

I have picked up several pretty good reads lately that have been pretty interesting. I just finished Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Maarten Troost. This was the follow up to his Sex Lives with Cannibals. Side-splitting funny, these are light-hearted travel logs of the author's years in the South Pacific. If you have ever lived on an island or in Asia then you will find yourself having to come up for air from so much knowing laughter--otherwise you will probably find it highly amusing. I have even forgiven the Troost from expressing admiration for the most pompous of all travel writers--Paul Theroux--whom I thoroughly despise.
I used Getting Stoned to lighten up after Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach. You might think that Bonk was light enough on its own but if you read it, I recommend planning something light and frivolous to follow up with. Bonk is a highly interesting and informative read but my mind still boggles and cringes from some of the crazy things people do all in the name of hormones and friction.
Currently I am reading Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. LeBlanc weaves an engaging yet heartbreaking story of how hopes and dreams remain ephemeral and unattainable as the cycle of abuse, drugs, poverty, and violence shroud an extended family. The book is so depressingly sad that I am glad that I am also reading Martha Beck's The Four Day Win: End Your Diet War and Achieve Thinner Peace. Although this sounds like a diet book and in many ways it is but just as equally in many ways it isn't. It is more about achieving your goals by understanding the way your emotional side interacts with your logical side and being gentle and kind with yourself. Beck's twisted humor makes it entertaining and her logic keeps you hopeful. It is a good read even if you are not among the 65% of us Americans that need to drop some pounds.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why do I have so many dramas?

In April I went back to Oklahoma for two weeks with the hopes that not only would I get to see my brother, home from Afghanistan, and celebrate my mother's birthday but that my cousin would have his surgery scheduled. I even got him an Oscar for Best Surgery as a souvenir from LA. Well, for a number of reasons the surgery was postponed and postponed until last Friday when he underwent open heart surgery to replace his heart valve. He has a bleeding disorder so that made it more complicated that it normally would. I was more than happy to make this event not about me at all--I wanted all my good energy thoughts to be focused on him. I called my Aunt early on Friday morning when he had just went into the OR--they expected that the surgery would be about 4 hours and then recovery time. I call again about two hours later for a second update--all was proceeding as planned. Good. Then the 3rd time I tried to call, my phone gives me the message that my service has been disconnected for non-payment. What? I paid my bill in June and I haven't gotten one for July yet. What is going on? I was anxious to hear about my cousin. I contact AT&T and even though I have been a customer for over 6 years now, they did not receive my payment on July 10th and on July 18th right about noon turned my service off. Why? Because I have never made a payment on the new number! Although I have made hundreds of payments to AT&T in the past and wait a minute I never pay my bill until towards the end of the month anyhow. How can it be late. Well something they failed to tell me when I changed my number was that different markets have different due dates so my due date changed to the beginning of the month not the end. But I never got a bill!
I paid the bill over the phone, they turned it back on, I called my aunt and my cousin was out of surgery and all was well. I so did not need any more drama. A manager from AT&T called me back explaining what I just explained and offered me $25 for the inconvenience of me having to sort through my own telephone drama while worried about what was happening in a hospital halfway across the country. Thank You AT&T for making Friday all about me and you. My only question is couldn't the telephone company have called me--a customer in good standing for more than 6 years to let me know that I had missed a payment? Other companies do why can't the telephone company? Because that would mean providing good customer service, obviously.
To end this on someone other than me, my cousin is continuing to do well, perhaps better than expected. He wants to be clearing a pasture next week--the stubborn guy that he is--he will probably try.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Coldstone's NrGize--Don't Try It

Pronounced "Engergize", this is Cold Stone's newest creation to try to cash in on some of the market Pink Berry has carved out. But take my word, don't even give it a chance.

I am a big fan of frozen desserts. Pints of anything that I might buy don't stay in the freezer for very long--OK let's face it they usually don't even make it to the freezer. But here's the thing, I am not very discriminating. I love it all. I survived college dorm food by creating what was later called by my crowd "Marta-mix". This was a glass filled 2/3 full with soft serve and the rest of the way with chocolate milk and mixed to a thick shake consistency. I have even enjoyed frozen non-dairy whipped topping. Once again I am not very discriminating. So when I decide my $3.50 would be better in the trash can than in my stomach, you have to know it was seriously twisted.

So here's the story. I walked to the movie theater yesterday to catch a matinee--I saw Hancock. In the summer, I like to conserve energy by spending time in places that have to be cool. Besides, my apartment is still in disarray from the week in Anaheim and Vegas. I was strongly motivated not to stay home.

At about 4:20, the movie was over and I needed to walk the 20 minutes back to my apartment. Since the thermometer still clocked over 100, I decided that having a nice bit of ice cream would make the walk more pleasant. I am trying once to be more conscience of my diet so when I saw the new tangy yogurt being advertised, I thought I would give it a go. I love Pink Berry and even some of the Pink Berry knock offs but NrGize is in a whole different category. I should have put the brakes on the experience when the employee had trouble scooping out. "It has a strange consistency" she told me. In the picture there were blueberries mixed in that looked so refreshing and cool, I wanted blueberries as well. Second clue that I should have cancelled my order was the blueberries. These were little tiny things that look nothing like the fresh blueberries that Pink Berry and the like have. I asked if they were in syrup and the employee assured me they weren't. That's because about 15 seconds later I realized they were probably reconstituted blueberries. The type that comes in muffin mixes.

Here is my final analysis of Cold Stone's NrGize--I you are partial to frozen radiator fluid with bits and pieces of woody tasting reconstituted blueberries, then by all means give it a go otherwise STAY AWAY. I have just learned that there is a frozen dessert that I would rather throw away than consume. Who knew? It took me forty years to find it but alas I have.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Being a DID--Damsel in Distress

Last night I went running for the first time since all my health dramas began. I went out for an easy 10 minute up the hill to the park run and then walked most of the way back. I got home, untied my key from my shoe and quickly realized that I had taken my gate key and not my house key. The management office closed at 6:00. I had no phone and the office wasn't due to open until 9:00 the next morning. Crap!
If you know me then you know that problems with keys is a reoccurring theme in my life. There was the time K & I lost an entire set of work keys--neither of us sure who was responsible or how it came about that they were missing. G told us we needed a new blood type as O people tend to be flighty. I don't even know my blood type but G assures me that I must be without a doubt an O.
Then there was the time in Slovakia where my kindly neighbor broke the window in my door, opened it for me and then repaired the window. I feel that I was set up because the door was auto lock and I remembered I didn't have my key about 1/2 second too late.
And the three times I locked my keys in my little red Aspire--once with the car running and once when the key had fallen off my key chain--that one was totally not my fault. But fortunately my little red Aspire understood me well and just happened to have a hatch lock could be unlocked without a key.
So back to last night. I found J's apartment (another librarian that lives in the same complex). I asked him to use the phone to call a locksmith. The quote was $120 (wha&%$%?). J said that he thought he could break into my apartment from the balcony. We went to investigate--he needed approximately another 3 feet. We found a crate in his apartment but I got all wimpy on him (visions of cracked and broken bones) and didn't let him try. Next we scouted the complex for a ladder--found one on a van and asked around to see who it belong to. We found the owner, borrowed the ladder, J climbed up and onto the balcony, jimmied my lock--just a little--and successfully opened my door for me. Happy ending. I took J out for dinner and plan to buy Ladder-man a box of chocolates. What a way to get to know you neighbors.
This episode once again demonstrates why I will never win Vegas. I am fortunate and not lucky. It was crap luck that allowed me to lock myself out the apartment but sheer good fortune that I was able to get back into my apartment with the help of my neighbors.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Summer at the Library

This summer seems to be flying by--what ever happened to those long lazy summers? Obviously not in the library. We have our summer reading program and people are coming in droves. We are getting used to a new system--read this as it now takes twice as long to do anything--on top of a busier than usual summer. I think we are busy because of the economy. The library is a pretty good value really--if you own a home your property taxes have paid for the service, so you might as well use it. It is cool, comfortable, albeit pretty noisy these days, and we offer some pretty fun programs for free. On Friday we have the Teen Ice Cream Sundae competition. I did this one last year with good results at my old library. The teens make their ice cream sundaes using the stuff we provide. I got a variety of stuff including gummie bears, M&M's, Pringles (yes, that's right), syrups and other toppings for them to get creative. We take a photo of their creation and then while they are eating, we are printing out the results so that everyone can vote. We will give them three plastic coins to vote for their three favorite sundaes. The winners get some small prizes including a $5 gift card.
Last week was kind of crazy--wait what week isn't crazy it its own way?--but last week was special. First on Tuesday we had a diaper go seriously awry in the children's area. This involved me shutting down the area with caution tape until the cleaning people could come. Then on Wednesday we had a baby vomit on the rug during storytime. Joy. Once again the cleaners were called in. I really feel sorry for those guys but not sorry enough to want to take over. And while I was away in Vegas for the weekend the grand finale of the week occurred. An Aide told our male librarian that there were reports of a naked man in the bathroom. Luck was not with me monetarily in Vegas but obviously someone out there has my best interests at heart--I am eternally grateful and don't rue the money that I lost in Vegas just so that I did not have to deal with Naked Guy in the Bathroom.
But the summer isn't over yet.