Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

This past year was simply awful, in a way it hasn't been since the horrible duo of 2001 and 2002 where I lost my remaining grandparents, my father was diagnosed and my mother had her accident. This year was lonely and depressed, and was rather hard on a number of friends as well. So phooey on you, 2007. We won't miss you one tiny little bit.

It would take a significant amount of work for 2008 not to be better than 2007, so I have high hopes for the coming year. I wish nothing but happiness and good cheer for all of you in the next year, and a reversal of fortunes for those of us who have been on the receiving end of too much bad luck.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

We are now somewhat moved into the new house. Well, our furniture and a lot of our clothes are moved into the new house, and our old house bears a suspicious resemblance to the floor of a teenage boy's bedroom, with lots of stuff strewn haphazardly over the floor but hopefully less mold.

I do quite like the new house. For some reason, it was always smaller in my memory than it actually is, so the past day has been spent feeling pleasantly surprised at how spacious our new surroundings really are. Our bedroom is smaller, but we had more room than we needed and in all the wrong directions before. K's bedroom is bigger and the guest room is about the same size but a better shape. The same goes for the kitchen, which is no longer so narrow that if two people want to pass each other in it, they really need to be married for it to be moral. The dining room is smaller, but we can say a cavalier "Pshaw" to that little detail because of the basement rec room, which is huge. We have all of our living room furniture in it, the tv and entertainment center and all of K's toys, including the sizeable train table she got for Christmas, and it still doesn't feel crowded. The upstairs living room is going to hold most of our bookcases and serve as a library, and if the table feels too crowded in the dining room, there's enough room to put it in there as well. It's all the same room, really, just in an L shape (the kitchen-living room-dining room are basically a big square room with a wall between the the kitchen and living room. I think if I owned this house, I would knock down the wall and put up an island so the entire area would be open.

Hopefully our process of ant-like ferrying of our stuff from one house to the next will be efficient enough to have us out in the next two weeks (with a five-day chunk taken out for a trip to Michigan for Christmas. I keep forgetting about the little detail of a plane trip this week, or at least I remember it, but not that it's this week. When my mother told me tonight she would see me in three days, it came as a big shock even though the logistics of the trip were about half of our phone conversation. My brain, it is mush). We are at stage two of stuff, the three stages being:

1. The things you absolutely need to live in your house in any sort of reasonable comfort (i.e., not just sleeping on an air mattress and eating sitting on a folding chair with your plate on your knees)
2. The things you don't need right away but are still nice to have
3. The crap you should have thrown away five years ago but still inexplicably carry from house to house, sometimes not even bothering to take it out of the box in between

I am not yet sick of moving. I expect I will be singing a very different tune around December 28 or so though, so stay tuned.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I talked to my boss today about getting catalog cards that could go through the printer, and while I had her blessing to make free with the Gaylord catalog, talked her into spine labels for the printer as well as more book tape. Christmas gifts for the geeky librarian!

I completed my campaign to pull the library into the 20th century by making my best pitch for putting the catalog on the computer, and I think I've talked her into it (as far as I can tell, her hesitation is due to the number of staff hours it would take to do the data entry. But the museum worker there and I pointed out that it was the sort of work you could do during quiet times and pick up and put down. Plus we have a couple of new volunteers just ripe to abuse with a stultifying project). And it's a good thing I did because I discovered a couple powerful new reasons to have the catalog on computer.

First, I dropped an entire drawerful of cards. Fortunately, they dropped in a clump and didn't get out of order, so it was easy to clean them up. But that wouldn't happen with a computer. Of course, dropping a computer would have much more disastrous consequences, but I don't think I would have as many occasions to be carrying around our desktop. Also, electronic records are much easier to duplicate than five hundred billion catalog cards.

Then, I was filing cards and discovered a problem I hadn't thought of before but is an obvious issue in any library with records going back far enough: outdated subject headings. More to the point, outdated subject headings that use terms that are now considered offensive. Specifically, I was in the N drawer and found the section of cards for the subject headings that start with "Negro." Erk. I pulled them all as quickly as I could so I could update them to the current term and went through the rest of the catalog to get the other related cards that might have those subject headings on them.* And while I was at that tedious task, I thought about how easy it would be to simply call up on the computer all the records that use that term and change them in one fell swoop. A five minute job, which will take me much longer since I have to retype all of the cards and then file them again. I can't wait until we move our level of technology into the 1980s.

*If reading about this makes you want to rant about all of the PCness rampant in the world today, please don't bother sharing it. While on the one hand I certainly have my eye-rolling moments and occasionally want to point out that changing what you call yourself isn't necessarily going to leave behind the baggage of prejudice you experience, it seems to me that an awful lot of what people call PC is common politeness. And it seems like an awful lot of the time, when I see people ranting about it, what they're really saying is that they don't want to interrogate their internalized racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., and they resent being made uncomfortable by you bringing the topic up and making them think about it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I think we are in complete denial about the fact that we're moving in THREE DAYS. Currently, I'm sitting here working on the sweater for K that has consumed my brain lately; I don't want to do Ebay stuff, I certainly don't want to pack, I just want to knit. Our books are about half packed right now, and I threw some bathroom stuff in a box earlier today. We have a bunch of stuff that never really got unpacked which has mostly been moved over to the new house, so it can sit mostly unpacked in _that_ garage. But other than that? We're woefully underpacked when you consider that we rented a truck for Sunday.

The problem is that we've been lured by the siren song of the fact that we're only moving two miles and we have an entire month of overlap between leases. Theoretically, this means we can take stuff over in stages in a leisurely manner, hopping and skipping all the way. But I'm starting to be afraid what will actually happen is that we'll find ourselves late on December 30, shoveling our crap into the car for trip after endless trip as our belongings mate and multiply before our very eyes.

It's not too late to avoid this dire fate. I could start by closing the laptop and getting up and packing more books. Did I mention we discovered this week that there are built-in bookshelves in the rec room downstairs of our new house? And a totally cool fold-out desk in the wall.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Sisyphus at the Typewriter; or, Keep Your Wooden Sabots Away From My Computer

We recently got a huge donation of cat-themed mysteries at work. This is great since we have a high little-old-lady quotient among our patrons, so books that combine mysteries AND cats are the intersection of perfect.

But I have begun to feel like if I go to purgatory when I die, I will be required to type "Lilian Jackson Braun" over and over for the rest of eternity, probably on a typewriter where every third key sticks.

I don't mind using the typewriter for cataloging, even the days like yesterday when I'm clearly too tired to be operating heavy machinery* and I wind up awash in correction fluid. What I mind is typing the same thing over and over and over again on each of the minimum of three catalog cards every book requires, and the fresh hell that breaks loose when a book has subject headings assigned, which each need a card of their own.

Today I realized that while we don't have 3x5 cards that can go through the printer, we do have card stock and a paper cutter. So I took ten minutes and set up a template in Word. And then I cataloged nine books in 15 minutes through the magic of cut and paste when yesterday it took me an hour and a half to get through 6 books. Behold the power of library automation.

*You don't think a typewriter is heavy machinery? Then I invite you to come try to pick up our venerable IBM Selectric, which as far as I can tell is made from a cross between concrete, anvils and pure malevolence. Always assuming you're not scared off by the way it squats in the corner of the room, humming threateningly and radiating evil, of course.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Two books I found at work today

Your Psychic Power and How to Develop Them

Psychic Archeology: Your Time Machine to the Past

And as a result of this, I now know that "Parapsychology and Archeology" is a Library of Congress subject heading. Words cannot express my delight.

We have a surprisingly large 133* section. I think we may have gotten a donation from a generous crackpot, or perhaps the crackpot's heirs. I think that section may soon get quite a bit smaller, since I don't think we really need to be giving shelf space to the writings of crazy nutters that haven't been checked out in the past twenty years. If they were popular writings of crazy nutters, that would be a different matter entirely. But given the dust from a bygone prehistoric era that puffs up every time you open one of those books, I think that's a section ripe for weeding.

*Occultism and Supernatural/Parapsychology/crazy weird ravings by eccentric loons

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The textbook definition of "mixed blessing"

The other day, K took off a wet diaper and put it in the toilet. There's a certain logic there, but I don't like to think what a large cloth diaper would do to our plumbing.

However, she wasn't able to flush the toilet because the handle has been broken for the past two weeks and the only way to flush is to lift the lid off and yank the chain, which K isn't nearly storng enough to do.

Do you think I should send our landlord a thank you note for his negligence?