Herontown

Hello friends and neighbors. There hasn’t been much librarianish going on lately. I’m still working on our cool audio/video catalog application, and am generally enjoying spring. I turned 29 recently, and spent the day hiking the finger lakes trail with friends. We saw a heron rookery, which is where Great Blue Herons go to hang out when they aren’t busy stabbing fish. There were dozens of them living in huge stick nests at the tops of some very tall trees. They kept flapping around and honking. It was weird and beautiful.

Spring means cleaning out and planting the garden, moving furniture around, recovering from the Slime Flu that has been going around our office, preparing for a trip back to Flint (two weekends from now – mark your calendars), watching all of the Father Ted episodes back-to-back, overusing hand sanitizer (see: Slime Flue, above), and eagerly awaiting the arrival of I’m Not the New Me in the mail.

In the spirit of spring cleaning/redecoration I’ve been having fun with this link. I’ll be putting a giant artichoke on my office wall any day now.

Stay right there.

My parents visited this weekend, bringing birthday presents with them. As usual, these gifts were thoughtful, appropriate, kind, and Extremely Heavy.

It all started in a few years ago. I had recently moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan for graduate school, and had increased my distance from “home” by about 30 minutes. Ever-supportive, my parents would pile in the car on weekends and we would all have lunch at Zingermans. However, the holidays revealed an unusual pattern. Instead of the usual paperbacks and gift certificates, I started receiving Very Heavy Things. A leaded glass picture frame weighing about 15 pounds. Hardbacked reference books. Anvils.

My latest move to Ithaca has upped the ante. The trip is now eight hours long, and for my birthday this year I received a pair of six ton jack stands and an iron tea kettle. I suspect this will be followed by an armoire and a set of shotputs.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my parents are slowly building an anchor. Soon I will be forced to remain, tethered to my home by a series of carefully-placed items too heavy to fit in the moving van.

Field Report from Rural Michigan…

My mom and dad drove over for a visit this weekend. I took them to the Syracuse Zoo (it was a zoo at the zoo, tourists everywhere) and bumped around Ithaca for a few days. We got up early to hear Bill Clinton address the graduating class. God, what a fantastic speaker that man is. Unlike some occupants of the White House I might mention.

You might want to go here:

My mom, the rural library director, reported yesterday that small Michigan libraries are in deep euphemism as a result of across-the-board state budget cuts. If George Bush’s stupid deficit makes my mom’s library close, I’m going to be one very irate informationist.

Wait. I already am an irate informationist.

Hey! Look! More Snow!

Hey! Look! More Snow!

I’ve been back at work for a while, but have been too exhausted from my vacation to write about everything. Here’s a little recap. But first, this:

Cell phone use was apparently a problem at some point here in the library. I can’t imagine why, since the giant slabs of asbestos prevent anything resembling decent reception. Anyway, the main stairway has been designated a “Cell Phone Zone” where, supposedly, students and staff are to stand enjoying echo-y conversations amplified and overheard by six floors of potential eavesdroppers. Today on the way upstairs I noticed a bit of graffiti above the cell phone zone sign. In grand geeky college tradition, someone has designated the stairway the “Self-Hone Zone.”

Which would be great, of course. There should be more of this. The library could establish a whole suite of self-improvement locations. Meditation rooms built off of the lunchroom, consciousness-raising areas outside of circulation, friendly councilors scattered throughout the stacks. The self-hone zone is only a beginning.

Right. Anyway. So over the break, I drove the eight hours to Flint, spent a restless night in my drafty old high school bedroom surrounded by the ham radio equipment and computer magazines that have taken my place, then flew down to Austin, TX for xmas with my boyfriend’s parents, who are majorly sweet. I met him on his layover in the Detroit airport and we flew down together. Apparently the flu had struck him in the airport shuttle, and by the time we met up, he was a tired, feverish pile of carry-on bags. Christmas was spent in the Austin Emergency clinic, waiting for an antibiotic prescription.

I was felled a few hours later, and most of my stay in lovely lovely warm not-snowy-at-all-Austin was spent in a darkened room drinking tea and comparing thermometer readings. We did make it to San Antonio on our last day, and ate at a famous Mexican restaurant where the entrees consisted almost entirely of lard. At the San Antonio zoo, I met the Giant Anteater and spent almost an hour hanging around outside his habitat, which was probably the most ant-free spot in Texas, watching him sniff around with his giant ant-sniffing nose. He came up and sniffed me a couple of times, which pretty much made my week.

After Austin, I flew back to Michigan and hung out with my parents for a while. My friend Erin was in town from San Francisco, and not wanting to get hit in the crossfire of a Flinttown New Years Eve, we hopped in my car and drove to downtown Chicago, where we were much safer. I spent two solid days at the Lincoln Park Zoo, which you may think is a bit excessive, but I do not. On both days, I was pecked by an ostrich. Or rather, the glass that I was standing in front of was pecked by an ostrich. The ostrich would walk by, see us standing there watching him, come over and peck the glass in an irritated way, then walk off. This happened several times. After awhile I realized that the ostrich, having a rather short bird-memory, probably thought that each time it pecked at us was the first. He was trapped in an endless loop of “La de da, here I am, walking, HEY! Get out of here! HA! Take That! La de da…”

Hey, for any of you designers out there, the American Ostrich Association (AOA) really needs a new website.

Anyway, after Chicago, Erin and I drove back to the Crater that is Flint, spent some more family time, and I drove home.

New Year’s resolutions include:

Getting to work earlier. Which, of course, means leaving work earlier. It was getting pretty depressing leaving at six and six thirty. I’ve started coming in at 7:30 with the secretaries, and I think I’m getting more work done in the quiet.

Gym getting-to. This too has been quite successful. My friend Kim and I have a pact. We go every day at lunch rain or shine. We’ve had to miss two days due to dangerously cold windchill (-25F! Come to Ithaca!), but other than that we’ve been faithful. I’ve felt really great doing this. It’s like having recess in the middle of the day. And it is much more memorable than curling up with a book in the lunchroom.

More cooking, less of the conveniently located Indian restaurant. Say no more. Mmm, saag paneer…

Ivy

First, I would like to officially apologize to Peter for talking his friendly Minnesotan ear off at the I.T. thing yesterday. Low blood sugar almost inevitably leads to leftist political rants. I’m sure I read this somewhere in the New England Medical Journal.

The window ledge skateboarders have not returned today.

Someone once pulled a gun on my friend Erin and demanded her skateboard. This was back in Flint, MI. She ran away, and now runs marathons in San Francisco.

At this point I would like to emphasize the Not-Flintness of Ithaca, NY. I feel confident that my library window skateboard boys are back in middle school today, snapping bra straps and setting off stink bombs.

I’ve been reading this book:

This fine place so far from home: Voices of Academics from the Working Class

Speaking of which, there sure is a lot of ivy in the Ivy League. It all turned red over the weekend, and it looks just glorious. Ivy can cover a great number of architectural flaws. Someone might consider planting some around Olin Library

In which Metafilter links and I fret

EEE! I’m quite excited about being linked on Metafilter, but was it just me, or did some snarky person imply that the name Librarian Avengers is a possessive plural? I’m so confused. There aren’t even any adjective-noun agreement issues, and hello, avengers serves as a collective noun anyway. It’s like saying “dental hygienists” or “sports team.” This is really bugging me people. I’m wasting valuable rant time here reading linguistics texts and trying to figure this out. Besides, I stole the name from the Lesbian Avengers so am I really to blame?

Oh wait, I just realized that the snarky person was being snarky about the entry below mine. Never mind.

Hmm. Or maybe they weren’t. Hell.

A few weekends ago the charming Alexandra came out to visit. Although she, Pedro, and I all have degrees from the University of Michigan’s School of Information and took a few library and archives classes, none of us really consider ourselves librarians in any sort of traditional work-in-a-library way. This might be of interest to any of you potential library school students: Information School can lead you to choose strange and unusual jobs. Beware!

Anyway, while she was here we went out to a local sheep farm and met the nicest people, dogs, sheep, and pigs. We don’t really have access to stuff like this back in metro Detroit, so we got all excited and Alexandra took lots of pictures. And since Alexandra is a champion craftsperson, in a few weeks one of those sheep will be turned into a sweater or something. I’ve always thought that if some sort of Y2K event occurs, we are going to load up the bees in the Jeep and drive to wherever Alexandra is. She’ll take care of us. She would just knit up a nice four-bedroom house, and then cook a six-course meal out of acorns and dandelions.

If some horrible Y2K type event DOES occur, Ithaca is actually a rather nice place to be, considering the amount of locally grown food and the homebrew philosophy that sort of permeates the place. Mmm, homebrew. Gotta go.

Visiting Michigan

This weekend I was in Michigan taking care of family. On my way out of town I visited my friend Chuck, who has recently purchased a Very Fast Motorcycle. Detroit cops seem to have better things to do than pull over speeding motor city kids, so we were able to get some riding in.

Right now, I find the following things equally therapeutic:

Petting Clay and Mike’s rabbit*

Doing 100 mph on a dark road with the visor up

Getting in a really good Tango with a strong lead who brushes his teeth**

* The dog rabbit. He hops up to you and demands to be petted. The more you squish his face and pull his ears the happier he gets. I’m serious. This is a really good bunny.

** This hasn’t happened in ages. Volunteers accepted.

Pennsic, accents, and the SCA

Ok, hello. I’m back. Vacation involved lifting entirely too many heavy boxes, but I managed to enjoy myself. I spent a few days at the geektastic Medieval reenactment festival Pennsic, and the long drive back from Pennsylvania across Central New York was an unexpected treat.

For some reason I never knew this, maybe because when you live in Michigan you are only allowed to say nice things about Michigan, but New York is darn pretty. There are all of these green mountainy things, long swooping valleys, and huge tire-sized turtles that stomp across the road and scare the heck out of you. Plus, after five days of camping I was singing the praises of every flush toilet along the way. Yay technology.

It was kind of strange to turn on the cell phones and get messages from concerned friends and family members worried about the blackout. Let me just say, if there is any place to be during a major loss of electricity, it is Pennsic. These people have tents that are better decorated than my house. It is not unusual to see a huge pavilion lined with ten oriental rugs, and filled with a long dining room table, an armoire, an antique full-length mirror, a dressing table, and about a thousand candles. People bring full kitchens, propane-fuels refrigerators, hot-water showers, beds, enormous gates, and enough clothes to clothe an army, which, incidentally, there also happens to be. We, on the other hand, brought our backpacking tent and some sleeping bags. All week, people walked by and asked if my tent was the “armor tent.” Yes, people set up special little tents for thier armor. As a seven-year employee of the Michigan Renaissance Festival, the weirdness of all this did not come as a complete surprise, but I have to admit being somewhat taken aback by the full-scale reproduction of a Viking encampment that sprung up across the road. They even had their own bus, with, I assume, oars that stick out the windows. Oh, and I’m told that every year there is a party for all of the librarians who attend.

Back when I was a spoiled undergraduate and could study whatever I wanted, I took this class in American Dialects. One of the interesting trivia factoids I learned was that people tend to take on the dialect of wherever they feel most comfortable, or they identify with the most. This might explain why a grandmother will still have her Irish brogue after 30 years in the States, while a theater student will return from a summer in Stratford calling trucks “lorries” and referring to her mother as “Mum.” This is all to say that I must like it here in New York.

I don’t know if it’s the smoke-free bars, or the truly excellent pizza, but I’ve been finding myself calling carbonated beverages “soda.” Now, as anyone with a self-promotional website can easily claim, I am entirely without pretense, so the substitution of my native “pop” for the exotic, foreign “soda” comes as a surprise. But I can assure my fellow Michiganders that I will continue to drink Vernor’s Ginger Ale and put gravy on my french fries.