Jan 09 2005
Things you can find in my refrigerator that may or may not comprise dinner:
– half a jar of green olives
– half a serving of leftover tofu pad thai (from the thai place around the corner, which recently reinvented itself for the third time in the last year and a half, and while still not as good as the first time I ate there, is considerably better than the last time)
– some lettuce
– some mayonnaise
– three containers of hummus in various flavors
– unbaked homeade cookie dough
All in all, satisfactory.
Things are coming along. My schedule is quite tiring this year, which is to say I’m tired and have only just made it past the first week. Work six days a week, class five days a week, and too many credits and unfinished projects. Not to mention a boyfriend doing heavy construction in his apartment (he’s building a platform loft) and a general desire to still have a social life, which may or may not actually happen.
Although I feel fine, my stress-o-meter, like the terrorist alert, is elevated, which is to say I’ve been even more clumsy/forgetful than usual — I left my hat on the bus today (sad), and I left a shopping bag with a quart of milk in it on the bus yesterday (I salvaged that, however, by catching the bus at the next stop). Also that three cans of tomato sauce have been sitting on my kitchen counter for well over a week and a half; that I not only cannot find the power adapter for my cd player, but that it just occurred to me that I could use it instead of batteries — in other words, when I am stressed I slip like a faulty disk on the small details of life.
My life has many moving parts right now, and most of them require me to remember complicated and arcane things. I think about the full sweep of what I am doing and it raises my heart rate; I should have been a dot-commer after all.
How much intellectual work should one do for patrons? Today someone asked me if there was Matlab on the library computers. No, there’s not, I replied, but then I looked on the UW computing page and dug around until I found the software list which told me that Matlab is installed on two of the Unix research clusters that one can get an account on — an account that is not set up by default, but that one can enable. One then runs Matlab remotely at the prompt.
Bear in mind that I have never used Matlab in my life, and what it does is well over my head, but I can read and interpret these relatively simple instructions for setting up a Unix shell account — so I tell the patron all of this and he gives me the blank stare of freshmen everywhere –
“but I’d like to be able to log in at home. Can I do that?”
Well, no shit, these are instructions for getting a server account. As in, the program lives on the server. I am not going to read the entire website to figure out the instructions for you — earlier this same patron asked me for books in a required TC class which tells me that they are an Engineering student or pre-major, which means they had better be able to figure out technical computer documentation (not to mention knowing what Unix is).
But, clearly, this is the less-than-helpful answer. Ask C&C, I said, as they will know how to do. And they will, although they will not necessarily helpful either. “Well,” this bright young thing with a runny nose said, “there has to be Matlab somewhere on campus. I’m taking a class in it.”
Then why the hell didn’t you ask your instructor about it? Or read your syllabus, where I would bet good monopoly money that connectivity details were included?
So, as I was saying, how much intellectual work should one do for one’s patrons? Yes, I can tell you that you can ask your teacher, or that you can buy it at the bookstore, or that it’s on the Goodall cluster, but c’mon, this isn’t rocket science and those aren’t hard answers. It’s not like you’re looking for a technical report and needed to find the NTIS number. It’s not as if the answers don’t exist.
But half the time, I am realizing more and more, all people need librarians to do is tell them whether an answer exists or not. Armed with that knowledge, most people will dig around until they find it.
Today I ran across an article about the Blue Moon Tavern, which is right down the street from me. This was printed in the newsletter of the Washington State Library Association. The Blue Moon has quite a history.
(Scroll down to Bards, Rebels and the Blue Moon: p. 8).
“what is it about the Blue Moon or any other tavern that elicits such ardor on the part of political and artistic partisans? Perhaps such places slake a thirst deeper than the obvious, a thirst to associate freely with people and ideas away from family, bosses, and teachers in places that are off limits to censors and other protectors of social orthodoxy.
Beyond being “third places” of cultural assembly where strangers may form brief, egalitarian communities, taverns are the fifth branch of our democracy: legislatures of the common man, supreme courts of public opinion, mass media for the microbrewed, and White Houses where the dispossessed, disgruntled, and plain dyspeptic might preside for a pint or two.”
I think I will be dyspeptic by the time this damn quarter is over. Perhaps I already am.
J. and I had brief plans to go to Boston over spring break that were dashed by bad ticket sale dates and our friend to stay with being out of town. It was a great plan though, and it might still be resurrected. I’d like to go somewhere, a quick weekend trip like I always seem to be angling for and that I never seem to have time for either. I am working, I am doing this, I am doing that. Hence, it will probably be spring break before we even get up to Vancouver. Oh well — what else is new? I always want what I don’t have.
And there were — signs and wonders
I am not as fond of the latest U2 album (“How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”) as I was of the one before that, which is one of my all-time favorites. But still, it’s not bad, and it might grow on one.
It probably will. It fits me right now.
It is funny how much this year has taught me about myself. Not always in a particularly good or pleasant way, but that is the way of things. Lately I’ve been in a bit of a shellshock about the latest turns that my life has taken. Who would have imagined? Not I, a year or two ago. Who could have thought? And, what comes next?
Finger still red with the prick of an old rose
Well the heart that hurts
Is a heart that beats
Can you hear the drummer slowing?
One step closer to knowing
One step closer to knowing
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