Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Beaded Lanyards

The County requires us to wear name tags on lanyards. The standard lanyard is a black shoestring--not really a shoestring but might as well be. This is the first time since I worked at Burger King that I have had to wear name tags. That's OK, I don't really mind but I despise the shoe strings. Something more fashionable please. When I first started, I realized that some people had beaded lanyards that looked more like jewelry than a shoe string. I remembered that I had a bag of beads from broken necklaces and a trip to San Francisco's Chinatown with my craft savvy friend Anne. I thought, I can do this although I have never beaded anything before. I bought some crimp beads and a lobster clasp from Michaels, then I got out my fishing line--I don't fish--and my bag of beads. In about an hour I had put together my first beaded lanyard. The first lanyard is the one I get the most compliments on. I think because it has a variety of different interesting beads.
Since then, I have switched from fishing line--it will eventually come tied--to regular beading wire. I no longer use lobster clasps but rather round rings that make switching from lanyard to lanyard easier. I have re-beaded the original lanyard about 4 times and have at least two more that need to be re-strung. Lanyards catch on things and sometimes there is a shower of cascading beads on the floor.
I enjoy making the lanyards and recently when I was Disneyland I bought a couple of Mickey beaded bracelets. I envisioned turning them into lanyards so yesterday I spent the time off between my split shifts beading a Mickey lanyard. I think it is cute and will probably wear it around for a few days.
I really don't have that many lanyards of my own because I usually end up giving them away for gifts. Recently a new manager told me that she liked the lanyard I made for V two years ago for Christmas. So to congratulate her new position, I sent her a lanyard.
Last year I was commissioned to make two lanyards for Christmas presents. Those have been the only ones I have sold. Sometimes I think I should sell them because I have invested quite a bit in beads but I feel kind of strange asking for money from people that I work with if they want on of my lanyards. I would never make an entrepreneur and had the same problem with teaching private English lessons. I felt guilty for taking money to teach them something I enjoyed teaching. Some people are like me are better off working for other people otherwise we might starve.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Conflict Management for Libraries

I just finished Conflict Management for Libraries: Strategies for a positive productive workplace. What? Conflict in libraries? We all know that libraries are quiet peaceful places where everyone has plenty of time to read their favorite high brow books, right? There cannot possibly be dissonance and discord in libraries. Wrong! Wrong! and WRONG! Libraries are staffed by people and people naturally have problems.
The book is set up in 3 parts. Part one sets the stage and identifies the purpose. Part two, the bulk of the book, is Stories from the Trenches, scenarios that have been culled from a survey the authors conducted. After each scenario, two management professionals and the authors assess each situation. What I learned from part two is that I have a wonderful staff with few problems. I don't have to deal with angry outbursts, I don't have to deal with substance abuse, I don't have to deal with problem employees in general. But then I probably used up my quota of problem employees when I had to deal with angry guy. Now, I have the support of my administrators to ensure that problem employees don't infect the rest of the staff with their toxicity. I really and truly have it good.
What I would like to have seen was more scenarios that were specific to larger systems like mine. The scenarios were spread out through different size systems both public and academic.
Part Three gives some hints on Managing Conflict before it Manages You. For me this is the most valuable part of the book. The book stresses that management is often an afterthought in libraries and library Master's programs. In regards to management the often repeated questions is "What does this have to do with being a librarian?" Somehow libraries have survived without stressing the answer "Everything" to this question. We manage everyday. We manage our public, our employees, our materials and our equipment everyday. And since the flood gates were opened about 30 years ago --when our focus changed from protecting the written word to providing outstanding service to our customers--librarianship has been struggling to catch up with the rest of the business world. Many librarians continue with their head in the sand but that in my opinion is just adding a nail to your professional coffin. Me, personally, I want all the tools I can acquire in my management tool bag. It makes my life so much easier.
This book is the first step of completing one of my personal goals on reading 12 professional development books in the next year. I also asked my administrator if I could present book talks each month at our monthly manager meetings. I figure that accountability will keep me on track. She has to get approval but probably I can.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dreams Do Come True

That was the theme for the Disney Land wedding and family reunion I attended this weekend. Although not really part of the family, I did receive a family t-shirt and was told that now there is no turning back once I put the t-shirt on. My friend M,who was assigned as my mentor when I became a library manager took her role seriously and as sort of adopted me into her rather tight-knit family. Her younger sister, D, is runs one of the bookmobile and D's twin sister lives near my library. I have been to Vegas for family get-togethers, spent family Christmas with them and now the reunion. Everyone has been very welcoming and I feel like part of the family. It is nice to have that interaction and it makes living like a lone-gypsy comforting. In Hiroshima & Hawaii I had my hashing family and now in California I have the Reyes family.
So this weekend was the culmination of almost a year's worth of family for the first wedding in the family in 10 years. The wedding was beautiful and everyone in the family had roles--putting together favors, hair, makeup, dressing, banquet duty,etc. This was a true family effort. It was awe inspiring to see.
On Friday morning M picked me up to head for Disneyland. In the car the phone started ringing and did not stop for most of the weekend. I call it the Reyes Coconut Wireless and it is amazing to behold. Within minutes everyone knows what everyone else--all 50 of them--is doing.
On Friday shortly after we arrived we headed to the ticket gates to get our annual pass. I decided to go for the annual pass because there is a monthly payment plan and we worked it out that if you come to Disneyland 6 times in a year it will begin to pay for itself. Since the weekend counted as three times then we only need to come for Halloween, Christmas and at least once this summer. I plan to bring my niece at least once this summer so that she can have fun. I might even buy her a lesser pass which pays for itself after two visits.
Everyone said that the park was more crowded than usual for this time of the year. You would never know that the economy was slowing down--other than the shops going out of business in Downtown Disney--by the volumes of people. But if they are all annual passholder then Disneyland has become an economical place to go with the family.
Yesterday, M's nephew took us to Company D which is the company store for Disney employees. Since her nephew works at ESPN Zone in Las Vegas he is a cast member and qualifies. I got my niece some souvenirs t-shirts, sweatshirts etc. I got us both Cast Member exclusive T-shirts. Only connected people can get them so that should make her happy. I am looking forward to having my niece here this summer. D's and E's daughters are the same age so she will have some teens to hang around with.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Employee Recognition

Once a year, we have a library breakfast that has an author talk and service awards for several different categories. Last year, I was on the award selecting committee. As a result this year I decided I would nominate several people. I encouraged several other people to send in their nominations as well. One of the people I nominated was not even listed on the nomination list in the program. I was very disappointed and thought that there was a huge mistake. When I questioned why my candidate was not on the list, I was informed that she was DQ'ed because she had received the award several years ago. You can apparently only receive it once. After some thought I was angry because our effort was not recognized. Ok, I understand about her being DQ'ed but still the nomination was valid. She was selected for the award before I began county service. I felt a bit bummed.
The road to employee recognition is tricky and strewn with land mines. How does one go about recognizing some employees over others? How do you generate inspiration and a desire to achieve and not the opposite? How would I structure the awards to reach these goals? It is easy for me to voice my gripes and to thump my chest in righteous indignation. Much more difficult for me to think of a way to effectively solve the problem without spawning others.
Here is my thought though, keep the award breakfast as it is but make sure that people are aware of the rules. Then find other ways to recognize a wider group of best practices throughout the year. In fact this was one of the recommendations that I made sure was in a task force proposal that I was one. Last fall, I attended a goal setting workshop at Hawaii Library Association. At the end of the goal setting workshop the facilitator showed us a slide show of some of the goals that had been created in his workshops and how they were achieved. Looking at all the ideas really sparked my imagination. Now, imagine that at our quarterly meetings we have a brief slide show of some of the things the managers and their staff are doing in their libraries. I think the 10 minutes would go a long way. So there you go, not just griping about a problem, but also offering a solution. All my training is paying off!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Zen of Fish

I just finishedThe Zen of Fish: The story of sushi, from samurai to supermarket by Trevor Corson. Corson spent several years in Japan and apparently speaks fluent Japanese. He probably doesn't have to review Japanese for Busy People II in the morning with his coffee. According to his website he is also the only Sushi Concierge in the United States. Huh? But it appears that the guy is credentialed enough to write a book on sushi.
In the Zen of Fish, Corson follows the thirtieth class of the California Sushi Academy (CSA). There is some drama, will the flaky girl Kate--only one of two--pull her act together enough to become a sushi chef? The CEO of CSA, Toshi Sugihara, is about to lose his second restaurant, Hama Hermosa. And he is still recovering from a stroke. The mysterious Australian sushi-prodigy instructor Zoran has to return unexpectedly to Australia. Will the students be able to graduate without him? Will the CSA be able to continue without the restaurant? Will Toshi be well enough to continue? Their fates hang in the balance.
When I started the book, I was reminded of Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. Not a favorable reminder to be sure. I put Fast Food Nation down after about 50 pages because it was written for a 10 year old with sentence length averaging about 5 words. I groaned internally and wondered if I would give up readingThe Zen of Fish for the same reason. Here is an example: "Kate had never been an adventurous eater. She grew up on chicken casseroles. Her family rarely ate fish; when they did, it was deep fried. They didn't each much rice, either. Kate's family ate potatoes." (pg. 10) Groan. Turn the page. More of the same. I feel my brain s-l-o-w-i-n-g d-o-w-n.
I don't know when I decided that the short sentences were OK, but I would guess it was about when descriptions of complex chemical reactions in different types of meat made an introduction. In fact by 2/3 of the way through I could even call myself grateful for the terse sentences.
The book is compelling, I learned quite a bit about sushi, its history, and its introduction in the United States. Los Angeles, I already knew played a huge role.But when there was also a connection in the book with Stillwater, Oklahoma (home of my alma mater Oklahoma State University)I was sold. Stillwater was mentioned as a far flung place in the heartland that had sushi chef positions. "True Pioneers. To open sushi in Stillwater, Oklahoma?! Wow." (pg. 132). Now when I go back in May, I will have to just see who has opened a sushi shop and where. I wonder if Eskimo Joe wunderkind Stan Clark has anything to do with it? Maguro Joes, maybe?
One thing I did learn is that I eat my sushi wrong, which kind of surprises me as I learned to eat it in Japan. I watched like a hawk that first day in Japan when I was introduced to the principal of the school over a sushi lunch in his office. I picked up the sushi with my chopsticks, dipped it into soy sauce-rice side down-and pushed the entire piece into my mouth. Suddenly,I thought I was going to die of suffocation right then and there because the rice was expanding in my mouth and I could breathe through my nose due to a severe head cold. Visions of embarrassing myself by passing out on my first day in Japan with my first meal in Japan in front of my boss danced through my head. Before I keeled over, I was able to swallow. I survived to learn that none of us were supposed to have dipped the sushi rice side down into the soy sauce. It is also preferable to eat sushi with one's hands.
Mind you I have only been in one real sushi restaurant. I taught a series of English lessons for the city officials in Hamada, Shimane, Western Japan. When the class was over they wanted to treat me to one of the special sushi places in town. Hamada is a fishing village with a fairly important fish market, so a real sushi shop would be just that. I vaguely remember that we might have used our hands and we might have dunked the sushi fish side down. I think this is possible because what I do remember most vividly was the very long pieces of fish and the very small amount of rice. I found it very difficult to eat the entire piece in one bite--memories of my first sushi experience still haunt me to this day. I am sure a sushi connoisseur such as Mr. Corson would have found this experience top notch. Me? I decided that I really didn't like the real deal so much. I guess I am just too much of a peasant or maybe just an average American with American sensibilities.
Give The Zen of Fish a read if you like sushi or you want to try sushi. It will give you a better appreciation for what goes into making raw food taste delicious. I am interested in going to Aomori Sushi down the street and trying sushi in a different light. Maybe there is hope for this fine example of peasant stock, yet.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Goal Visualizing

Several weeks ago, I was looking through an issue of Runner's World with deep nostalgia when I came across an ad for The Bay to Breakers Run in San Francisco. My first race ever--a 3K midnight run on New Year's Eve--still resonates fond memories. I have long wanted to do the Bay to Breakers which is in May. I know that this year, it would be impossible--the heel spur is still giving me grieve. But I thought next year. Ahh, next year, I want to have all my credit card balances paid off and I want to go back to Hawaii and do my favorite race--The Great Aloha Run over President's Day. And I want to... And I want to... I decided to cut the ad out to remind myself that I really want to run the Bay to Breakers next year. I will need to train as well as somehow coax my body to reabsorb the heel spur.
As is the way with my mind, on good thought leads to a much bigger one that usually ends up costing me money. This time it cost me about $25. What was the big idea? Well, I decided that I would build a scrapbook for my goals to keep them in my mind. The scrapbook was fun to put together and I now have a set of goals. Some short term--Go to Oklahoma to pick up my niece for the summer. Some longer term--Hike the El Camino de Santiago within 5 years. Some tangible--Read 12 library management books in the next year. Some more intangible--Concentrate on finding more balance in my life. At any rate putting the Goal Book together was a lot of fun. I searched on the internet for some photos that best represented my concept of the goal and then cut and pasted everything on to scrapbook pages.
Once again with my habit of extrapolating ideas to the breaking point--I thought this might actually be a good summer reading program for adults. I decided to check the internet out to see if anyone else had this idea. I come up with big ideas but they are rarely original. Sure enough I found this website: on creating a collage for goal visualization.
The summer reading program for libraries this year is Be Creative for children, Express Yourself for teens and our system has adopted Color Your Summer (I think) for adults. Anyway, I believe that offering a program for Goal Visualization would be a lot of fun and fairly easy to do--just bring in some scrapbook supplies and a bunch of magazines for them to find photos of their goals. Through in a few snacks and not only do I have a library program, I am working towards meeting another goal of offering at least 3 adult programs during the Summer Reading Program. YES!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What Has Happened to My Milk Carton?

I bought milk last weekend at Sam's Club. At first I thought they had run out of the white liquid but then realized that what I thought were misplaced gas cans were actually my new milk jug. Looking at how they were stored, I realized right away what was goal of adopting the design was because it was deemed someway more green. I could live with that, I would get used to the strangeness. At least those were my thoughts until approximately 7:45 the following morning when I poured about a cup of milk on my floor in a half awake attempt to wet down my cereal. Look a little closer at the design of the jug, I realized that although it may have all the advantages reducing costs of production, shipping and delivery, it was very poorly user oriented designed. A quick search pulled up this article from the New York Times: So according to the venerable news source, I just need to get used to it as more and more stores adopt the green-jug. I have to think that there is some design that is both ecological and user friendly. I don't know if Canada still uses milk bags with spouts--much that way that we now get wine in a box. Canadians would buy a reusable container to house their milk. Many people reused the milk bags as other bags to carry cosmetics and other items because they were very durable. I know this because a Canadian friend carried her make up in one such bag. I definitely think getting milk from a spout would be easier and less messy than from a wide mouth jug that takes considerable practice not to get on the floor. What do you think?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nihongo Benkyou Shimasu

Last weekend I picked up Japanese for Busy People II at Barnes and Nobel. This is the new and revised edition of the same volume that I completed while living in Japan. I still have the old edition but I felt the need for the new and updated version. Actually, the new one has some conversational constructions that I never learned--or at least I don't think I had. Who knows I have forgotten so much.
Why the renewed interest in Japanese. I don't have a clue. I don't have any plans to go back to Japan. Maybe the weird dreams I started having about 3 months ago where I found myself back in Japan working has had a residual effect. I think the dreams are the result of the shattered economy. I ended up in Japan the first time not only because I wanted to travel but also because there were zero jobs at the end of the eighties for liberal art majors such as myself.
At any rate with my morning coffee, I have started reviewing the stuff I have already learned. Realizing full well, that the problem I already have with mixing Japanese into Spanish is probably going to increase.
Japanese is my foreign language now and all those years of Spanish lie under the Japanese. I can still read Spanish OK but that is a passive skill. Speaking is an active skill so I have to dive down deep through the Japanese to retrieve the Spanish. If I am not careful, I am just as likely to knee jerk into with a Japanese reply. The result is almost comical. A patron says something in Spanish, I give a stilted Spanish reply, patron says something else, Japanese escapes my lips. Patron looks very confused--it's not Spanish and most definitely not English. I must be speaking alien. Patron starts sidling away from me much in the same way one would a previously friendly dog that has started foaming at the mouth.
I blame Fran(k), Victor,and my other Latino friends in Hiroshima on this problem. When we would all get together and I was the only anglophone in the group, our conversations would go something like this: I would say something in English or Japanese, people would respond in Japanese or Spanish. They would say something in Spanish or Japanese, I would respond in English or Japanese. Fran(k) and Victor were perfectly polyglot--fluent in Spanish, English and Japanese. But the other guys like me had mixed abilities. Depending on what we wanted to say we would use our native language when necessary. Fran(k) and Victor picking up the slack through translation. So it is perfectly natural for me to hear Spanish and respond in Japanese. How Whacked it that?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Which Pair Are More Comfortable?

This is a no brainer, right? Or is it? Would you believe that I often turn to the silver high heels or another equally tall pair of shoes for relief in the afternoons. Yes,I, too, do believe it is a sad, sad day when high heels are more comfortable than a pair of sensible shoes. I am not saying that high heels are like walking across a field of lush, springy, green grass. No, walking in three inch plus shoes is more like having a cramped dark dungeon encasing your feet. And before the question pops in your head, I am not a sado-masochist. Actually quite the opposite, I am simply a woman with a heel spur.

A heel spur is a bone growth on the bottom of the heel bone, that looks like a little curved scythe. With a heel spur, each heel strike feels like an ice pick is being dug into the inside of the heel pad. Shoes that have no rise means that with each step the heel falls flat on the ground giving the spur a full poke into the tissue. During the day my plantar fascia, the tendon that runs down the bottom of your foot, tightens. Not only does walking produce a sharp pain, I also also have the sensation of thick, wide rubber band that doesn't want to stretch.

Here is the thing about high heels--probably not recommended by any living doctor--but none the less it gets me through the day. When wearing high heels I am walking on the balls of me feet and not on my heels. Result--no serious heel strike pain. The height of the shoe also keeps the plantar fascia stretch out so I don't have that tight feeling, either.

I would give anything to be able to say that a sensible pair of shoes is more comfortable than a pair of F-me shoes. But this is the state that I am in. I can't run, I am even giving up the treadmill in hopes that the spur will disappear.

A little history. This is the 4th heel spur that haunted me. The first started when I was in San Francisco and carried on for about a year and a half. It was one of the reasons that I was not able to handle living as an illegal alien sleeping on the sofa of an illegal apartment and getting paid a dead woman's salary in Slovakia. So I fled back to Japan where the doctor diagnosed it for what it was. The second came about 2 years later at the end of my stay in Japan and moved with me to Hawaii. The third came in Hawaii and lasted about 6 months. And then this one popped up last year. I have had them in both feet and it is a relief when my body re-absorbs them so I can get back into running. After some thought, it seems that it is not so much the running that has caused them as it is my weight. Each time they have coincided with a weight gain. Crap. Here's the conundrum, losing weight is easier without the heel spur.

There are some treatments out there--cortisone shots (yikes) and surgery (double yikes). But I am not a good candidate for either because my I have a history of my body casting them off. Both treatments are seen as a last ditch effort due to the low success rate and high rate of complications. I don't want to screw up any chances I may have of being able to lace up the old kicks again.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Outcasts of Skagaray

Last month I got a comment on my original Good Vs. Evil post recommending this book by Australian writer Andrew Clarke. I responded to the writer that I would check the library system to see if it was available--it wasn't. So then I checked was. It took me a little time to put two and two together before I realized that it was Mr. Clarke himself that had somehow found my blog and recommended his book to me. I don't know how he found my blog but I am a big believer in Serendipity or Divine Intervention (you can choose which one you prefer). I was pretty chuffed to realize that someone other than my friends and one person in my hometown, Idabel, actually read my blog. Since I wanted to get Oklahoma writer P.C. Cast's new House of Night novel (teen vampire book). I decided to get Outcasts of Skagaray to qualify for free shipping.
This is a Christian fantasy novel, not nearly as subtle as C.S. Lewis which is really the only other fantasy that I have read that would qualify in the genre.
Skagaray is an island community of warriors that thrive on blood lust that drives the death-and-exile-of-the-weak rampages that elders and their priest whip up in the community. The people live in fear of their god the Kirkil that demands blood sacrifice to ameliorate is wrath. Like all distopia novels (1984 & Brave New World) Tarran, our hero, is different. He is compassionate and thinks that there must be a better way. This is viewed as weakness, and so he flees into the Wild Domain. Tarran has already gathered a small community of other Outcasts when a stranger from the sea arrives carrying the Word. A battle between the all encompassing evil that is brewing on the island that the goodness of the True God will determine the fate of the Skagar's. Who will prevail?
Clarke has excellent descriptive skills. I felt that I was on the island with Tarran and his fellow outcasts. It was a pretty good read in the end-despite the fact that it was out of my normal genres--Christian and Fantasy. I also liked that Tarran had to struggle with his impulses--to seek revenge through violence--and his conscience which demanded better reactions that did not a mirror of what he was fighting against. I would have liked to have seen this aspect developed a bit further actually. What I didn't like was the poor editing of typographical errors. Although most books have the unavoidable one or two errors, this one had in a conservative count about 100. I never realized how distracting is could be. (Maybe I should be more diligent on the editing of my own blog). This though is not the fault of the author and should not reflect on the quality of the story told. In the end, I liked the overall story but I felt that miracles were relied on too much to overcome the very human hunger for power and control through pain, fear and suffering. I don't discount miracles--I am writing this post on my laptop that by all accounts should have been waterlogged & mud encrusted. And as often as I have blundered through situations unscathed, trust me as Hot Chocolate sings "I believe in Miracles." Although fantastical things can and do happen in fatansy novels--hence the moniker--events need to be grounded in the reality of the world being described. I didn't get that Kirkil regularly intervened in the ways of man was firmly established before Tarran was exiled into the Wild Domain.
Overall, I don't regret buying the book and reading it at all. I wish Mr. Clarke the best because he is a good storyteller.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Meth Lab or Pot House?

Last Sunday, J sent up a distress call from Home Depot's paint department. "Can you come help me, I have been standing here in confusion for two hours. I desperately need some input." I grabbed my keys and headed down the road to the local big box store. At the entrance, John greeted me with relief on his face and directed me to the paint department. He showed me the fruit of his effort thus far--a lone paint sample that he thought would be good for the bathroom. Yes, the man needed some help. He stated that he knew he needed some help of the female kind when he startled a fellow shopper by whimpering. J had chosen blue for the bathroom, when I asked him about trim he said that he thought white would be good for the trim. I asked him if he wanted it to look like Wedgewood. "Wedgewood?" he responded. Rather than get into a long explanation of what exactly Wedgewood is, I dropped it and got on with asking him questions about what he envisioned his home to be like. After about 30 minutes, we had settled on the general palette for most of the house.
J said that the house was in pretty bad shape and that a few coats of paint would increase the value considerably. He suggested that I come see the house before the paint so I would have an idea. So yesterday I headed up to the East Side of Lancaster to see J's new home. J had been house hunting for several months and decided on a bank owned home that was very reasonable. The home hung in the balance for about 5 weeks because it was not up to code and the furnace had to be replaced--something about it being a fire hazard--the bank was sure it wanted to invest the repair fees to get it off its hands.
As I pulled up to the knee high weeds in the front yard, I realized that this home with zero curb appeal could have benefited from a sell-your-home-makeover TV show. But this being a bank repo, they had little interest in putting anything into the home to increase the asking prices--seller's loss, buyer's advantage. Good job J.
As J gave me a tour of the home, it was clear that it was a fixer upper and desperately in need of a new coat of paint to cover up the hand prints and God knows what else was on the walls. The home has 3 bedrooms--I have claimed the middle one as my own. If I ever get transferred back up to the Antelope Valley, I will help J with his mortgage rather than find an apartment.
The J explained that really the home had a 4th bedroom. He then asked me to close my eyes until he got everything prepared for the FULL EFFECT. Huh?!? I heard the garage door open and sunlight hit my face. He then led me into the garage telling me this is where the former family kept their weird cousin. WTF?! Ran through my head that was trying to take in the dark dingy room with a gazillion electrical outlets. John explained that this was the only room in the house that was actually up to code. Wha...? Huh? my brain refused to process. J interrupted the mental confusion with.."Everyone that has seen the house from work, think it is a pot growing room." Oh, then it all clicked into place. Not a pot growing room, I thought, a METH LAB!
Later J, with a devious smile on his face told me that he planned to tear out the top half of the room and make are bar out it--christening it the Meth Lab. You see, I told him several weeks ago that former love interest Doug had a bar in the garage. I thought it was pretty cool--they guys could come over, hang out and not disturb the house at all. J thought he might borrow the idea. Good luck on it all J.
Footnote: Just talked to drug busting older brother and he said the room could be one of three things--most likely a meth lab, also likely a pot room and possibly just the get away for a carpentry inclined husband--a man room. Man room doesn't have the same ring as meth lab. So I am going to go with meth lab.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Memories

In Japan Easter was a week of egg hunts for my little students. I would buy more than a dozen 10 egg carton and boil eggs. For the kids I had already colored the eggs and hid them around the school for them to hunt. For the adults I would actually bring the eggs and dye in for them to have a chance to dye eggs during class. I love Easter, I like the pastel colors, bunnies and little chicks. I love spring--although not the allergies it brings--and the lengthing of days as the earth shrugs off winter. But I love Easter probably for the same reason that I love the brightly colored sunsets of Fall--my mother.
One year when I was either 5 or 6 and we lived in the Robberson house in Garvin my mom put us kids to bed and prepared our Easter Baskets. She dyed the eggs and then accidently dropped them on the floor, cracking more than a few. What to do about this dilemma? This was well before all night grocery and convenient stores. And besides, we lived 20 miles from town. Mom could probably have knocked on Mrs. Dempsey's door and gotten her to sell her another dozen eggs from her local grocery but this being the recession era money was tight and not an option. So being the resourceful mother that made our lives growing up brighter, she prepared a story for her questioning children who woke up to broken eggs in their Easter baskets.
When asked she told us this story: Last night as I was getting ready for bed, I heard a knock on the door. Not expecting anyone, I opened the door cautiously and was very surprised when I realized that the visitor was a large rabbit with a waistcoat and a watch in the watch pocket. I knew right away that he was the Easter Bunny. I asked him how I could help him and he explained that as he was crossing the pastures he got hung up on some barbed wire that tore his paw and made him spill his basket. I saw that his paw was bleeding so I asked him to come in to sit down and rest for a while. I got my sewing basket out and mended his paw so he was almost as good as new. He looked at me with deep concern in his eyes and thanked me for mending him but he was still worried because some children would have to get broken eggs in their baskets. He only had enough for the children with no extras. I told him to put his worries away and that my children would be happy to have the broken eggs. So with our agreement he left you the broken eggs and hopped on his way to deliver all the other unbroken eggs in his basket.
Richard and I were estatic to have broken eggs and I remember feeling so proud of my mom for taking care of the Easter Bunny. Later in the day, Richard came back from exploring the pasture with real live Easter Bunny fur. He found the spot where the Easter Bunny had snagged himself crossing the fence. This was really the best Easter ever. And each year, I remind myself just how lucky I am to have a mother that strove to create beautiful images for her children through stories.
Happy Easter everyone.

Friday, April 3, 2009

But I returned that book...

No less that two or three times a day the following conversation takes place.
Me: It looks like you have a book that hasn't been returned to the library and you have a large fine on the books because it has been marked as lost.
Patron: What? I returned that book!
Me: Ok, let me do a shelf check to see if I can locate the book.
(a few minutes later) I can't seem to locate that book on the shelf, perhaps you still have it at home.
Patron: No, I am 110% sure that I returned that book. I remember it specifically because it was a rainy day and I had to get out and put the book in the book drop and I was wet and late for my gym class.
Me: Sometimes we do make mistakes but generally if we do then the book would be on the shelf. And if someone check it out then it would have been cleared from your record at that time. We have a way to mark the book that you have told us you returned it but we can find it. The system gives us 90 days to locate the book. If it is not located in that time then it will go back on your record. I encourage you to look for it in all the places that books seem to hide, behind the sofa, under the car seat, etc.
Patron: Oh, I don't need to look for it because I returned in the bookdrop. That is the last time I ever return anything in the bookdrop.
Me: Ok, you will be able to check out today, just check with us periodically to see if the book has been located. Thank you for choosing this library.

Yes, we do make mistakes but only about a quarter as many mistakes as patrons think we make. No one seems to understand, that we have heard this same story a gazillion times. There is even a Seinfeld episode about Jerry being certain he returned a book 20 years ago while in high school. The library police are out to make him pay.

True story, I looked at my account and found a DVD that I HAD RETURNED!!! was still on my account. I looked on the shelf and it wasn't there--what the hell--I returned that DVD! I remembered bringing about 5 of them bakc. Where did it go? I searched at home and it wasn't there. Then about 3 weeks later, I was cleaning my car out and found the DVD case between the gas pedal and side of the consol. I had returned 4 DVDs that day but the 5th on had slid down and hid itself.

As often as people claim that they returned their stuff in the bookdrop but never got checked in, you would think that the same people that make sock eating dryers also make the book eating bookdrops.

True story. I had one guy throw his card at me and tell me that that he was never going to use the library again and stocked out of the library. I put his card in my desk certain that I would see him again. And sure enough he sheepishly came in the next week carrying the disputed videos, telling me that they were behind where the cat always sleeps on the TV so he didn't see them.

V V has a theory, that certainanty that someone has returned item(s) to the library is inversely related to the likelihood that they didn't. If some states that they are more than 100% sure that they returned something we know that they probably didn't. On the otherhand if someone says, "Gee, I thought I returned that but wow, it could have fallen down someplace." we know that the mistake very well could be on our part.

Libraries deal with thousands of items each day. People work in libraries and people make mistakes. We work with scanners and computers that sometimes function better than other times. Mistakes are made. We admit it-so why can't you? Even a one percent error rate means that at least 10 things get jacked up each day-but in reality most days the error rate is much lower than that.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

How People Use the Library

I have been using library services since I was very young. I remember getting my first library card when I was in the 5th grade on a very rainy day. I was so excited to be able to check out my own books and since the library was about 5 blocks from my house, it was also very accessible. But what I don't remember is having a lot of fines. I think I had some occasionally but thing major. I certainly never lost a library book and I never spilled anything on any of them either ever. The biggest fine I have ever had was in Hawaii when I owed about $35 because I was too lazy to get the books back on time. I never even questioned having to pay the fine. It was my own damn thought.
The major of the customers that use my library are very responsible users. However, I have a fair number of people that want to "make a deal" with fines. Some ask for the entire fee to be waived because they don't think they should pay for their inability to get to the library even though they had no admittedly have no good reason. It is a fine dance that we do so that I don't give away the store but at the same time am "humane and compassionate".
But what really irks me are two things. The first is a lot of people check out items and never return them. I have hundreds and thousands of items marked "Assumed Lost" this means that someone checked the book out and never returned it. On my shelf at any given time I may have one ASVAB and one GED book, however, the number that I would have if people returned them are about 25 copies of each. Please just bring me my books back! We keep the books so that you and everyone else can enjoy them. But if I have to keep buying books that will never be returned, then that means that I won't have enough money to buy some really cool books for people that do return them.
But the thing that truly pisses me off if theft. I looked at how much of my video collection is missing--a whopping 33%. Some of the missing items are honest mistakes--people think that they have checked out the video along with their GED and ASVAB books but somehow it didn't check out properly. But when we find empty DVD cases in the history section we know without a doubt that the DVD's have been STOLEN! I believe that there is a special place in HELL for people who steal from the library--their job will be to fan all those corporate execs with bonuses that robbed our country blind.