Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Finally, an alarm clock that's smarter than me.

Gauri Nanda, Research Associate, MIT Media Lab is about to make a lot of money. This clock is ingenious. Hopefully, they'll become available for purchase in the very near future.

I can't tell you how much I want one of these, but the idea of Clockys banding together is kinda frightening, and I think we can do better than brown shag.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Libraries and the Homeless

My library has had increasing trouble with the public monopolizing library resources. We are not a public library but an academic one. This means our primary goal is to serve students. The student's needs will always come before all others.

One area of my library has decided that for the rest of the semester to not serve the public anymore. They will not check out materials to the public nor will they allow the public to use their computers. I'm not sure how I feel about this considering that the rest of the library does not have this luxury. I almost hope community members do protest because the excuse that the floor is using for the ban is high demand. The library staff for that floor says that their resources need to be available for students, and that the community members are impeding students from using the equipment. I don't know what it's like at midday, but the equipment is sitting unused for several hours at the beginning of the day and at the end. If no one is using the equipment, I think the community should be allowed to use it.

Keep in mind the actual aim of the ban is to prevent 'homeless' men from using the facilities. I use quotation marks because we don't know for a fact that these men are homeless. They are being profiled I guess you could say. We assume they are homeless because they come to the library everyday usually as soon as we open to the public (7:30am) and sit at a computer to surf the net for hours. Many of the men have poor hygiene and wear the same clothing for days in a row. Several of these men also have behavior issues i.e. being abusive to library staff, viewing porn in a public setting, not heeding library staff's requests.

How to deal with these patrons has become an increasingly difficult issue. We are not talking two or three men. On a peak morning, over fifteen of these individuals have entered the library to use the computers. We only have twenty-six library computers. Most of the men are polite enough to the library staff, but they do abuse their privleges. Playing games, looking at porn, listening to music are not the primary purpose of these computers. We provide the computers for research. Granted, research can be far ranging, but these men are not taking notes while playing Zuma.

A possibly unfair correlation has been made between these patrons and the high instance of theft in our library. No one has been accused, but the general sense of ill will that the association inspires is festering among the staff and students. As a side note, the students do not protect themselves at all. They leave their laptops on a table and go off to class and then they're perturbed that the laptop's gone when they come back four hours later. Never mind the fact that we checkout laptop locks to protect unattended laptops, and no one uses them.

A recent post on the ALA website by the Hunger, Homelessness & Poverty Task Force, Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association has me pretty mad. True, a public library's mission is different from an academic library's, but this Task Force seems pretty out of touch. A public library's goal is to serve all patrons. If someone's personal odor is so offensive as to make other patrons unable to be in his or her vicinity, then that patron should be held accountable for impeding those other patrons' use of the library.

The two articles they link discussing policies regarding the homeless seem to me to be very fair and sympathetic to the homeless not "punitive policies clearly targeted at homeless people" or "misguided and at worst [contributing] to the criminalization of poor people". It makes me wonder if the writers fully read the articles.

The logic that the task force uses is negative and prejudiced. The task force says, "Poor hygiene and homelessness are conditions of extreme poverty, not types of behavior." The assumption that every bad smelling person that enters the library is homeless is insulting to the homeless. Many homeless take great pangs to maintain proper hygiene. They do not want every bad smelling person lumped in with them. Bad smelling people can be eccentric millionaires with mansions.

You cannot tell by looking at a person that he or she is homeless. Assuming that every slovenly dressed person or unwashed body that enters the library is someone who is destitute is prejudiced. The fact is many college students don't wash for days, wear clothes they slept in, and think nothing of not brushing their teeth for weeks, but by the task force's reasoning, these kids would be labeled homeless. No, they're stinky mess pots. I would hope that a student whose odor was so offensive as to impact other students' use of the library would be spoken to.

To finally be perfectly blunt, shouldn't homeless individuals be held as accountable as you or me? One type of behavior cannot be forgiven for one group, while other groups are still held accountable, and poor hygiene, drunkenness, and abusive language are all types of behavior. They are not exclusive to the poor, the middle class, or the rich. I was peeved to see this policy objective concerning Library Services for the Poor:
[Promote] the removal of all barriers to library and information services, particularly fees and overdue charges.

You know the best way to not get fees and overdue charges? Bring your books back on time! Heesh, they say they're democratic, but they're categorizing patrons and handling them differently. It's the caste system with poor people put on top. Most of the the policy objectives are good. In fact, I'd support most of them. It's just that first one quoted above.

I know I'm probably coming off as a terrible person, but I am a strong supporter of equal rights for everyone. It's true that we do not have adequete resources for the homeless in this country, and we have an ever increasing population of the working poor, but on the otherhand, I don't have much sympathy for someone who doesn't have anywhere to stay because he's gotten kicked out of two shelters already for breaking their rules. In the end, you just have to throw your hands up and say, "Well, you can't reside here. This is a library."

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Killing's Fun, But This Is Just Lazy

Now I'm a happy little carnivore and appreciate a good hunt, but this is just too much.

I mean killing has gotten too easy already. Automatic firearms can take down multiple targets in less than a minute. There's no effort. Now you won't even need to move from your bedroom to kill. You can sit in your underwear and click away.

They offer to stuff and mount your kills too or process the meat for consumption. What type of conversation piece is that antelope head on the wall going to be? "Yeah, I saw that online and BANG! got'em with a single round. They boxed him up and sent him to me right away. What's the website? Why it's Go outside and hunt? Are you crazy? There be bugs out there!"

I can sort of understand the quadriplegic using this service, but the majority of memberships are not going to be paid by handicapped hunters. They'll just be the ones touted by the website.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

No Temp is Normal

You remember Maury? Well, I didn't get to know him that well. It's probably a good thing too because I did get to know the next temp. What did I learn about him?

1. He hit someone with his car.

2. He has committed credit card fraud.

3. He has stolen from charity.

Other than that, he was perfectly fine to work with...

The guy was young, so I'm assuming he comitted the first two crimes while a juvenile, but he said he was committing the third one still. I don't know how to handle that. It isn't money he's stealing, and the thefts are happening at another workplace. If they found out about it, he would probably lose his job. He doesn't think he's doing anything wrong, which is mind boggling. The people are intending for the things they leave to be sold and to help a good cause, not go home with him.

I guess, I'll just let it go. His last night was Thursday. Someone permanent is supposed to start Sunday night. Yep, I have a new co-vampire. I haven't met her yet. Hopefully, we'll get along because if not the nights will get really long.

Disclaimer: I'm worried someone who knows me and the nameless temp. will read this and feel the need to act. I have no hard evidence that any of this happened, and I would not testify if asked. And I'm not who you think I am and neither is the temp...

What's the disclaimer at the beginning of books and at the end of movies -

All characters in this blog are fictional, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

I'm going to put that someplace permanent on the blog.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Vampire Librarian’s Vampire Book Recommendations

Here are some Vamp book recommendations. I'll probably do a movie one in the future.

Good YA Vamp Books

Companions of the Night - A sharp story. Characters are believable and not sugar coated.

Silver Kiss - heartbreaking romance for the teens.

Darkangel Trilogy - Is set in a fantasy world, and the vamp isn't of the Dracula mold. He's got a dozen black wings.


I Am Legend - A great apocalyptic vision.

Dracula - Forget the films, the book has some honestly chilling passages. I thought the ship captain's log was especially chilling also read the criticism to get an in depth understanding of the horror.

Modern Novels

Sabella or The Blood Stone - A novella that's out of print. A vampire story set in the distant future on Mars. Lee also has a vampire series, but I've only read Personal Darkness, which is the 2nd in the series and unlike Hamilton and Harris, you really need to read the first book to get the 2nd, at least that's what I'm assuming.

Interview with the Vampire / The Vampire Lestat - Was a large component that started the vampire craze. The first two in the series are worth reading. The rest, well, if you really like Lestat then you're welcome to read more. Louis sadly falls by the wayside.

Guilty Pleasures - This first book in the Anita Blake series and possibly the next two are worth reading for the supernatural detective element. It becomes a tawdry sex opera after that.

Midnight Blue: The Sonja Blue Collection - Violence is a part of the vampire myth that gets forgotten a lot. Sonja Blue is here to remind you. A Dozen Black Roses isn't as good as this collected trilogy. Mainly b/c Collins puts Blue in an RPG world that doesn't mesh with what she's already created also she doesn't address any of the things left unexplored in the previous books.

Dead Until Dark - Does the Anita Blake thing with rural Southern flair. Sookie's a likable character. The series is ongoing. Hasn't degenerated quite as badly as Hamilton's series, but Sookie's man troubles are starting to mount up, and my interest is starting to wane. If the next novel doesn't focus on Sookie and her brother (a possible new were), I'm writing the series off. Update: It looks like it will.

Don't agree? Got a vamp novel you like? Tell me about it.

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 17, 2005

PSA for Students

If you're on a public computer, save your work to a CD, floppy, or memory stick; print it out; or email it to yourself.

I am sick and tired of you coming up to the desk crying, cursing, or in a panic because you left the computer for over fifteen minutes, it logged you out, and now that document, that you worked on for the last eight hours but never saved, is now gone, and don't tell me that it was the best thing you've ever written, and you won't be able to redo it. That is utter crap, and no, I won't write an excuse to give to your professor. You shouldn't have waited till the night before it was due.

That is all.


The Word of the Day is Heteronormative

The Word of the Day is brought to us by Harvard University and Jada Pinkett Smith.

This word is very new. It isn't in the online Merriam Webster Dictionary/Encyclopedia Britannica or The Oxford English Dictionary (Sorry, would link, but they are subscription sites).

Where CAN you find a definition? For a long definition, go HERE. For a short definition, go HERE.

Where was this word used in a sentence?

"Some of the content was extremely heteronormative, and made BGLTSA members feel uncomfortable," he said.

How do I feel about this 'controversy'?

I think the media monster has warped this all out of proportion.

Bill O'Reilly's a dick, but this transcript gives some perspective. It was a SLOW news day at Harvard, people, and frankly it's hard to be inclusive of everyone all the time. Yeah, it was unfortunate Jada's speech didn't acknowledge homosexuals as being able to 'have it all', but I think that was just an oversight not a conscious omission.

What she said was, "Women, you can have it all-a loving man, devoted husband, loving children, a fabulous career," she said. "They say you gotta choose. Nah, nah, nah. We are a new generation of women. We got to set a new standard of rules around here. You can do whatever it is you want. All you have to do is want it."

Yeah, it might've been better if she said, "You can have a loving partner, who if male you can marry, who if female you can live with but not marry. If your partner is male, you can have children either by natural conception, artificial insemination, or adoption. If your partner is female, you can have children by artificial insemination. If your partner is male, you might have a fabulous career if you don't work at a company that undermines women and keeps the glass ceiling firmly in place. If your partner is female, you might have a fabulous career if you don't work at a company that undermines women and keeps the glass ceiling firmly in place and doesn't discriminate against homosexuals."

The whole thing just makes me wonder if PC Nazi is still an oxymoron?

Who Has Come to the Library Tonight?

10 Red Devils
2 girls wrapped in Saran Wrap (with clothes on underneath)
1 Easter Bunny
1 Jester in a toga

The Jester in a toga gave me a potato. (Try saying that 3 times fast)


Monday, March 14, 2005

The Vampire Read - Citizen Girl

Citizen Girl
By Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

This is the second book by McLaughlin and Kraus. I read The Nanny Diaries, and generally liked it. Yes, the characters were more caricatures, but it was the breezy read: Fast paced, witty, with some touching moments.

Unfortunately, Citizen Girl is just a stylistic rehash of ND without the appeal. ND was the misadventures of a young nanny for a rich-to-do family. There was a gossipy flare to it. We, lesser classes, could snicker and feel vaguely superior to the richer set. In CG, the authors try to scale the corporate world and show the struggle of feminism in the face of today’s apathetic, male-dominated environment. The only problem is that while ND was inspired by the real experiences of the authors, the authors have no real idea what the corporate world is like. The company they create is unbelievable, the bosses are outrageous, and there’s a general lack of solidity to the story. It goes beyond outrageous to mind boggling incomprehensible. Stuff became so random that I started checking page numbers to make sure my copy wasn't missing any.

The novel frankly becomes tedious and a real downer. Girl lets everyone walk all over her, and everyone does. The abuses become more and more outrageous and frankly sickening. If she is such a staunch feminist, why doesn't she put her foot down when her bosses insist on her getting a makeover and a bikini wax? I mean if she were such a dedicated feminist, wouldn’t she change her name from Girl to say something like Woman?

Bah! I’m tired of writing about this lack luster, disappointing read. I will be very leery of picking up another book by these two. I’m just glad I didn’t buy this piece of crap.


Saturday, March 12, 2005

An Entry That Will Be of No Interest to Anyone - Not Even Me

I took off this week for Spring Break. It was either that or start going to work in the daytime and this is the only time during the semester that the library will let me take off. I was all set to go on a gluttonous shopping spree and spend outrageous amounts of money. I did the last part.

I live in a house that’s quite old. I’ve been told it was built in the late eighteen hundreds. It isn’t a grand estate or anything. It was built to house a working middle class family, which it has done for well over a century. This means also that while the house has been maintained, it has never been completely overhauled and given a proper modern renovation with all bells and whistles that come standard in a new house.

The house is heated by an oil boiler. I don’t know the first thing about boilers and how they run and I was given no guidance from the previous owners. I can barely keep oil in the underground tank as it is so when the boiler started making more noise than usual I quirked and eyebrow and wondered when it would go away. It didn’t go away.

I got that sick feeling in my stomach that heralds Major Home Repair, but I tried desperately to stay in denial land where my house doesn’t have asbestos siding, a rotting front porch, splintering floors, or a soon to be broken boiler. I thought maybe the boiler just needs a little TLC. I looked up heating repair in the phone book and started calling companies about maintenance visits. One wouldn’t even come to my neck of the woods, another said they wanted me to sign a contract for annual service that would cost A LOT, the third said the person who handles boilers is out for the week, and another spoke to me on speaker phone much to my echoing annoyance. I finally pinned down one that was at least forty bucks cheaper than the others and made an appointment for him to come out to look at my boiler.

He came, he saw, he itemized. My boiler was in trouble. It needed to be taken apart and cleaned, and a new motor installed. In the end, I had to shell out $593. Goodbye shopping spree.

I don’t think I got robbed by the repair guy. He was here for several hours working on the boiler. He fixed a few other things that he saw which cost little to nothing, and the boiler isn’t making terrible grumbling noises anymore, but damn, that bill punched me in the gut. I don’t live a name brand life to begin with. Any money I save, well I don’t save any money. I’m dutifully chipping away at a number of debts. One of which is for a home repair I had to do soon after moving into this house two years ago.

Like I said, not an enlightening post. It was slightly depressing to write. Finances are usually a depressing topic, but I had to share because sharing is free, and I don’t have moolah for much else. I did go shopping, but I stuck strictly to clearance aisles, dollar stores, and the Good Will.

I go back to work Sunday night. Joy.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Temp. Hell

Usually there are two vampires to work the overnight shift at my library. We need two vampires here so when one goes to the bathroom, needs a drop of blood, or has to leave the desk for any reason, there’s someone there to leave in charge. My boss has been struggling to dig up people to sit with me so I won’t be alone.

A call for a temp. was sent out.

Maury answered.

There was trouble the first night. After being there for an hour, he asked to go out and lock his car. Huh? Why wouldn’t you lock your car when you came in? I said okay. He left. I waited. And waited. I wondered if going to lock the car was code for, “Bye, I’m not coming back,” but he did eventually come back after twenty-five minutes. I thought okay, I’ll let it pass. I trained him some more, but he made it pretty clear that he was not comfortable with computers and had not used them much at all. I wondered why the temp. agency recommended this guy if he had no computer training. I didn’t make an issue of it. It was still fairly quiet. Not much going on yet. All I really needed was someone to be at the desk when I needed to go elsewhere.

Of course, this was too much to ask.

For an hour, I goofed off on the computer and kept an eye on the gates to watch people come and go. Eventually, I needed to use the bathroom. I turned to tell Maury, and didn’t find him. He’d disappeared. I looked around and stepped into the back to find him. He wasn’t in the break room. I looked through the cubicles and finally stumbled upon him in the office of student employment. He was sitting in her chair using her phone. I motioned to him that I needed him. He got off the phone and came to the front. I went to the bathroom, and when I came back, I said he shouldn’t use that phone. There was an empty desk with a phone he could use, which he’d been told about at the beginning of the shift. He said okay I was the boss. I settled back into my spot and started surfing the 'net again.

Over the next few nights, a pattern began. Every time I looked up, Maury was gone. I would have to go find him. He’d taken what I said about the one phone to heart but decided that all the other phones were still fair game. I found him on my boss’ phone, I found him on one of the librarian’s phones, and I found him on the public phone that’s tucked away behind the bathrooms.

This puzzled me. I’d indicated a perfectly good phone he could use. I guess the problem with it was that it was within eyesight. I repeatedly told him he should use that phone at the empty desk. He’d just smile and nod his head and say I was the boss. Did I mention he had a cell phone?

Once he’d been warned off every phone except one, he began hiding and using his cell. He went to the bathroom and talked in there. He went to the stacks and talked there. He went outside and talked out there. I was beginning to reach my wits’ end. I couldn’t turn my back on him or else he disappeared. I asked him to tell me when he needed to leave the desk. He smiled and nodded and said I was the boss. I turned my back, and he was gone.

I did reach my wits end when one night I really needed to use the bathroom, and he was gone again. I had to hold it until he reappeared. I spent the time by writing an email to my boss telling him in no uncertain terms that Maury was done. It would be easier on me if he weren’t there. I mean if I’d been on my own, I would’ve dashed to the bathroom and been quick about it, but since I supposedly had backup, I had to wait till said backup reappeared. I’d sent the email and had been waiting ten minutes by the time Maury reappeared.

Maury wasn’t back the next night. He’d lasted four nights. He’d been offered to finish off the week but had refused. My boss worked the night with me. The mystery of who Maury was calling was never answered.

After a week, I got another temp. Bobby’s okay. He’s young, fresh out of college, and works part-time at a public library. He’s struggling with the schedule, but he stays at the desk, or tells me if he needs to leave to do something. He isn’t perfect, but he’s a HUGE improvement. He hasn’t used a phone once to call anyone.

It will be at least two more weeks till someone permanent is hired.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Here's a list of what's broken at my library

1. PA system: We can't make any announcements like "Evacuate the building! There's pink goo coming out of the ceiling!" (The stuff was like that ooze out of Ghostbusters 2 .)

2. Coffee vending machine: I'm worried there will be a riot.

3. Office printer: We, the people who work here, can't print a damn thing, so can't print out cartoons, funny articles, job applications, or anything!

4. Bathroom commode: It won't stop flushing. It's like a whirlpool. It's spinning the water so hard that it's flying out of the toilet. Forget the plumber. We need a priest.

5. Debit card machine: I'm surprised they haven't dealt with this. It makes money.

6. Furniture all over the building: Patrons have literally taken pieces apart like carrels.