Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Out of Office

For the next two weeks I will be on vacation at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, possibly also Badlands and any other National Parks I can hit en route to or from.

Have a good two weeks and I will be back in June. Wheeeeeee!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Microsoft Outlook should be sued for putting the Reply to All button next to the Reply button, in an easy to find, accessible place. Assholes set us up! If you click on Reply to All, a loud buzzer should sound and a neon orange pop-up should appear on your screen asking if you are a totally reckless lunatic who wants to make enemies, or if you really think the All recipients are interested in your reply. If you answer yes to either of these questions, another pop-up should appear and ask you if you’re on any medications, suffering from delusions of grandeur, or just stupid. Answers of “no” should then require a special series of math questions (like Gmail labs instituted) that you have to answer correctly to prove you are smart enough to decide and cogent enough to include pertinent information for your All group, and only then can you actually Reply to All. If Microsoft really cared about their customers, this is what Outlook would do.

Additionally, people who misuse the Reply to All button should be flogged and whipped in public for their indiscretion. By their boss. And then docked a day’s pay. And this should be a global law. Screw off, Amnesty International! There are some instances of torture that are worthy!

Yesterday, a very sad email went out to thousands and thousands of employees who are part of our library system, self-defined in the following paragraph:

...is a consortium of over 650 academic, public, school, and special libraries in [4 counties of Illinois]. It is one of nine multi-type Illinois library systems funded by yearly grants from the Illinois General Assembly and the office of Jesse White, the Secretary of State and State Librarian.

The email explained how little funding the State has doled out, how desperate things are in the system, and how they are all but shutting down at the end of June, running barely a skeleton crew for minimal services, which are also in jeopardy.

We all saw this letter and sighed heavily. They do so many things for the libraries in my neck of the woods that losing them would be devastating. Not only do they run the van service for our Interlibrary Loan, but our health insurance is administered through them, so we’re terrified what kind of implications this will have on our functionality as a reciprocating library, and how it’s going to impact our health care. This doesn’t even touch on many of the other services it offers, including the entertaining continuing education seminars/classes we often attend, where we laugh and shudder at the weirdos in our field.

So, none of us is sure where the mailing list came from. Perhaps anyone who has ever taken a course through the system and registered their email address was a recipient. Regardless, once the email went out, many others assumed they were special, had received this email from the director of the library system personally, and then forwarded it on as well. Many of us received the initial letter, somberly read it, and then continued receiving it from others through forwards for the remainder of the evening.


Okay, that’s bad enough, but today started the replies to all (meaning all the staff members in all the libraries in four counties, I should remind you) from various recipients that went on and on about how sad they were about the losses.

Lovely. Thanks. We’re all sad. Glad you felt the need to share it with every-fucking-one, but whatever. That’s part of why we laugh at you in the classes, you nitwits. Reply to sender only, please!

After a few hours of monotonous, repetitive letters of sorrow being emailed out to every-fucking-one on the list by Repliers to All, the hostile remove-me-from-your-listers started hitting Reply to All as well. So now, I’m in the middle of a shitstorm of idiots who were pissed to be receiving the heartfelt letters of sorrow, and are now Replying to All to be removed from the list because of the abusers of the Reply to All.

Seriously?! You do NOT need to hit Reply to All when you are asking to be removed from future Reply to All notifications.

Now, I’m not going to reveal my font snobbery and complain that the director of the consortium sent out this email in Comic Sans, because that would be petty. I am also not going to comment on the long-winded explanations about why some of these people are baffled as to how they got on this list because I quit reading them. What I’m amazed with is the fact that 27 have arrived in my Inbox thus far, a few in my spam, some surely pre-filtered before they even reach me, and then there was someone who used the opportunity to forward their own professional agenda to this list. WTF, people? If you’re the director of a huge consortium and you’re sending out a massive email to thousands and thousands of people, filter the list so that it’s not reusable by every moron who receives it! Maybe everyone who knows how to do this was already laid off. I don’t know. But goddammit, this is getting ridiculous. And it wouldn’t be ridiculous if people weren’t booger-eating morons! Or as Arms likes to say, “window-lickers on the short bus”.

So, while I’m at work and I’m dealing with the neanderthals who can’t enter their computer reservation number because they don’t know about the Num Lock key, or the folks who can’t figure out how to scan their barcode using a scanner (holding anything but the barcode up to the scanner), I’m going to say they’re less infuriating today than the people who work in my field.

And as if to top it all off with an even bigger irritation, someone just Replied to All to stop sending out Replies to All about wanting to be removed from the list because this is a serious situation we’re talking about here. As if this serious situation warranted thousands of respondents to clutter my inbox with identical emails of woe. Shut the fuck up, people!

Aaaaaaand, now people are Replying to All in support of the whiner who wants people to stop whining in their Replies to All.

Sigh... these are not my people.

The bottom line here is, it’s not going to change. Why does our library system deserve money the state doesn’t have more so than the schools? More so than any other organization they owe? My local school system is owed $1.5 million. There are school systems doing mass layoffs in anticipation of not receiving any state funding next year and trying to stay afloat. Fundraising has become essential for organizations like ours. We have to learn to adapt and survive any way we can, and writing our politicians, buying T-shirts, and singing Kumbaya around a bonfire (funded by donations and not the state) is not going to save anything. Despite what the idiots who are Replying to All think, this is not exclusive to Illinois. Get over yourself, folks. And quit using my Inbox as your soapbox! Frankly, if the Powers That Be came to me and asked if $2 million should be paid to our public schools or our library consortium, I’m going to be hard-pressed not to say the schools. While I think this is all quite sad, mainly the loss of jobs in this terrible market, I really don’t understand why so many people would rather whine about it en masse than pick ourselves back up and figure out a way to subsidize.

If we could sue Microsoft for putting together Outlook without all of the pitfalls attached to the Reply to All button as there should have been, we could solve many of these problems.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wisdom In the Stacks

Marina: I can’t find a shallow little divided dish for under my monitor to put my rubber bands and paper clips in. You know? They’re all these big things with pen holders attached, and I don’t want that.

Me: Hmmm, maybe a little baby food divider dish?

Marina: I hadn’t thought about that. Maybe.

Me: Where did you look?

Marina: Target. I went to MULTIPLE Targets.

Me: Try Office Max. Or, of course, Amazon.

Marina: Yeah, I SHOULD try Amazon. Amazon has everything!

Me: You know, yesterday I had a woman come in and she insisted there was this book, by this author, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I suggested the title was wrong, the author was wrong, etc., and she swore up and down that it was all right. I checked Amazon and there was no such creature, so I said to her, “Ma’am, Amazon doesn’t have it listed so it’s pretty much not out there.”

Marina: I know! What did we do before Amazon?

Me: We wasted all our life looking for stuff all over the place and overpaying!

Marina: That’s right! If it’s not on Amazon, you’re just out of luck, lady.

Me: Exactly! AA! MUH! ZON! C’mon, people. There is nothing more definitive. Have you not heard of Amazon? Have you not used Amazon? Sit down. I will show you the way to enlightenment.

Marina: I have a friend who is waiting for the day when he can order all his groceries from Amazon and they’ll just show up automatically every month and charge his credit card.

Me: That is probably not too far off.

Marina: You can already do it with some things.

Me: That’s right. Because it’s Amazon. AA! MUH! ZON! Get with it.

* * *

Last night I had the following conversation with my coworker.

Me: Oh, all that drilling in Circ is them putting up the AED device on the wall. I forgot to mention.

Coworker: The what?

Me: AED. You know? With the paddles? CLEAR! [holding hands like the paddles] Ka-chunk! A defibrillator.

Coworker: Hahaha, ka-chunk! Sounds scary.

Me: Oh, it is!

Coworker: Hey, did you see the pictures of the people who won the Ugly Shirt Contest?

Me: Yeah.

Coworker: They weren’t that ugly!

Last week the Sunshine Committee sponsored an Ugly Shirt Contest, and being the Gloomy Committee, I wore a plain, nondescript coral shirt and didn’t participate. There weren’t many participants, and when the winners were announced with a photo accompanyment, we all scratched out heads because the ugly shirts weren’t so ugly after all. Well, one one heinous, but that’s because it was her husband’s shirt.

Me: I think a lack of participants kinda guaranteed that whatever these people wore, they were going to win.

Coworker: Well, that makes more sense. What did they win?

Me: I... I don’t remember. Maybe they won a free Jeans Day pass. Or a restaurant gift card. Something like that.

Coworker: So, speaking of which, this policy on wearing jeans on Friday, is that for real?

Me: Yeah, I hate it. I worked a Friday recently and was going out after, so I didn’t want to have to change, and I paid the $1 to be able to wear jeans on Friday. Sigh...

Coworker: OHMYGOD, I would never pay a buck to be able to wear jeans to work! Is anyone else doing this?

Me: Yeah, that’s what got me. I paid my $1 and [clerk] took my cash, and she too was wearing jeans, and had paid her dollar. Marina did the same. I was really hoping I’d be the only one stupid enough to do it so after a month or two they’d scrap the $1 charge because no one was paying it. But, dammit, people are paying it!

Coworker: What would they do if I wore jeans and didn’t pay my $1?

Me: Well, that’s part of the dress code. You’d be considered insubordinate then.

Coworker: Are they going to write me up?

Me: Maybe they’ll send you home and make you change! WOOHOO!

Coworker: Maybe they’ll hit me with the paddles -- KA-CHUNK -- knock me out, and I’ll wake up a while later and my jeans will be gone. Instead I’ll have on someone else’s ugly pants.

Me: Maybe you’ll win for Ugly Pants Day then!

Coworker: Maybe I’ll just pay my dollar.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dear Patrons

Thank you for redeeming yourselves.

Sometimes I have no idea why you do what you do, where you hide your values, and why you bother with a library at all. Sometimes I wish you'd spend less time complaining about things that can't be changed (fines, rules, etc.) and put a little effort into using all the free services we offer so that you see where your money goes. Sometimes I wish you all just wouldn't come in at all.

We have awesome programs, some of which cost a lot of money, and no matter how much we hype it and how much support the public shows, you often just don't come to the program itself. We put up heart-felt, elaborate displays to help you realize just how many useful and entertaining items we have just for you, and you ignore them all. We give ourselves near aneurysms trying to concoct ways to appease you, to serve you, to provide you with material, information and tools you need, and you destroy or scoff at them. It gets discouraging. It wears on the soul. I frequently am asked by coworkers if this idea or that idea will fly around here and I inevitably answer, "I have no idea what these people want." This isn't always true, of course. Sometimes I, like everyone else here, hit the nail on the head, but we have no clue as to why often. It's a crap shoot. We try so hard to bring you the The Goods, and frequently we are left feeling like you think it's The Shit.

My recent displays included genealogy, foods to improve your health, crafts, DIY home improvements, job searching online, and Darwin/evolution. You checked out nearly nothing on any of them, leaving me feeling a lot like nothing I do is worthwhile to you. It's depressing.

But, as I said in my opening, you have been redeemed.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, dear patrons. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for raiding and emptying my Memorial Day display. I have no idea if it was one person or a smattering of people, but walking in today and finding my display nearly empty of books makes me feel like you are decent folks worthy of my efforts. Good job checking out those books! I hope they bring you the emotions you expect and then some. I hope you are as proud of yourselves as I am of you. And mostly, I'm thankful that we share one value in common, and that is a reverence for those who have served.

Now I can go on working here, giving you my best, because if nothing else, I know we see eye-to-eye on one issue and that will be enough to carry me for a bit. So, thanks for that.

Much Love,
Happy Villain

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Twizzler Update

Under the strictest, most scientific of conditions, Ann and I conducted experiments at Applebee's on Friday night and have the following to report on the Twizzler Straw issue:

  • Long Island iced teas are marvelous sipped through a Twizzler.
  • Frozen strawberry daiquiris are impossible to sip through a Twizzler, as it is too narrow and the end with the daiquiri plugs instantly, causing the center of the Twizzler to collapse and the sucker's head to implode. Tried repeatedly, this failed every time. Additionally, the frozen drink rendered the Twizzler inedible as it was far too hard to chew, despite animated faces and slightly-inebriated gusto.

Thankfully, I have a brilliant brother who has suggested the best possible solution to the Twizzler Straw problem: Red Vines.

Red Vines are an alternate brand to Twizzlers, and though their consistency is slightly different and they have a mellower, less licorice-y taste, they are much larger and have a wider hole in the center.

A large package of Red Vines was purchased by this scientist and three Mike's Hard Berry wine coolers are chilling at the moment. If Red Vines serve well with Mike's magical drinks of happiness, I will dare to give the daiquiri another shot.

Anyone else conducting experiments of this type are encouraged to report their findings herein.

Carry on with your straw experimentation.