I have a secret theory about our IT department. When a young computer tech is thinking that perhaps it’s time to have a child, the director sends him/her to the office in the library to make sure that this person is ready for the responsibility and patience necessary for parenthood.
To the computer tech, I’m sure that there are many similarities between his new library colleagues and infants:
- Infants cry, but they have no way of telling you what’s wrong. While we can talk, I’m sure much of what we say sounds like babbling to our tech. “Jeff, the printer’s mad at me.” “Jeff, the computer is blinking.” “Jeff, there’s a message. I couldn’t read it all before the computer shut down. But I think the words ‘zombie apocalypse’ were there.”
- Infants cry when their toys break. In the library, there may be tears when the printing system goes down, and we have to have students save documents to a flash drive and then we print them at the circulation desk.
- Toddlers love saying the same thing over and over. While our purpose is different, we tend to do that as well:
“Jeff, my computer’s not working.”
“It’s not working.”
“Can you tell me exactly what happened?”
“It was working and now it’s not working.”
- Toddlers/Infants can throw tantrums. (Umm, will say no more here to protect the guilty.)
- Infants love you unconditionally. We adore Jeff. He is always patient. He never talks down to us. He’s willing to answer our questions, even if it’s the 300th time he’s been asked. We think he’s pretty much perfect.
Last year, Jeff and his wife did have a baby, and he’s a good parent. And luckily, so far, he has chosen to stay with us.
For June, I chose the challenge of writing every day. So far, so good. I certainly have not created anything Wordsworthian, but I have written something each day. So I hope to make it to Friday and keep going.
For July, I decided to go a different way. I’ve been in my office for fifteen years and have gathered a massive amount of STUFF: books from my teaching days, knick knacks that have mysteriously appeared on my bookcase, notebooks from long-forgotten committees, food that could be eaten in case I’m trapped in the Zombie apocalypse but, otherwise, shouldn’t be touched, and so on. So I am undertaking a massive decluttering project, using Jason Manning’s 30 Day Minimalism Game.
This challenge adds a bit of a twist. On day one, you get rid of one thing. On day two, two things. All the way to Day 30 when you throw out 30 things. I’m already feeling a twinge of anxiety in my stomach as I think of that last week. But it needs to be done.
So here goes.
Who’s with me for the July Challenge?
This post comes courtesy of my colleague. When I came back from a meeting last week, she was sitting disconsolately in her cubicle. Working on a website for a committee, she’d been asked to make some modifications, changes she didn’t know how to do. She was sure that, even if she could learn how to do this, the process would take a long time. She was one unhappy librarian.
Thirty minutes later, she appeared in my office.
“How’s it going?” I asked.
She gave a sheepish grin. “It’s done.” She had looked up how to do it and completed the project in less time than she’d spent complaining about it.
It was, we agreed, a good lesson. So I’m sharing it.
Let me say this: I know nothing about how computers and the internet work. For me, it’s a magic box that tells me things I need to know. So I may use wrong terms here.
It seems our computers are on different networks. So there could be a problem on a student computer when the same database or program is working just fine on the staff ones. Except for mine. My computer does not like to be a snob. So it shares the problems of the student machines.
Yesterday, we noticed that our links to ebooks were not working. But because problems can never be simple, they were working on some pages and not on others. The links worked only on one browser. And to make matters more confusing, they worked on some machines and not others.
Today, when I came in, a colleague told me the problem had not been fixed. I checked on my computer, and sure enough, the link led to a virtual abyss.
I check with another staff member, who said, “It’s working on my machine.”
“But it’s not working on mine.”
“I tried it a hour ago, and it was fine.”
“But I just tried it, and it’s not working at all.”
Then there was a stare-off between the person with working links who’s pretty sure that the other person is having user-error problems and the person (me) who is sure she knows how to click on a link.
I demonstrated that the links did not work on my machine. Then I checked the student machines and discovered that they did not work there. Now the problem is in the capable hands of our beloved IT department.
It occurred to me that today held some pretty good life lessons:
- Don’t assume that because something has happened to you, it is universal.
- Know the cause of a problem before trying to solve it.
- There are some things that are beyond your understanding. To delve too deeply into them will only lead to madness.
I’m willing to bet that there is one constant among libraries all over the world: If a storm hits and the power goes off, all the patrons stare at the library staff as if they turned off the electricity on purpose.
Today lightning struck somewhere nearby. The electricity was off for only a couple of seconds, but long enough to cause the lights to go out and the computers to shut off.
The lights came back on, and we were confronted with faces staring at us with a mixture of despair and blame.
Quick-thinking Amy yelled out that all might not be lost, and she went out among the students to see what could be saved. She also used this as a teachable moment, reminding students to save their work, that reliance on auto-save might not be the best of ideas in bad weather.
Luckily, everyone seemed to get back to what they were doing with a minimum of effort.
All’s well, although we are hoping for a break so we can go to lunch without getting drenched. Or struck by lightning.
Colleague: What are you doing?
Me: I’m looking up a president for a student.
Colleague: Can you look up James Madison for me? I’m listening to a book about him and want to see a picture.
Me: Sure. Here you go.
Colleague: He looks nothing like I imagined. I imagined him looking more like an uncle. He seems so kind and gentle in the book.
Me: Madison? Those aren’t adjectives I’ve heard used about him. Great man, sure. But gentle and kind? Nope.
Colleague: And don’t tell me. But I think someone’s going to try and kill him.
Me: Well, you can’t stop worrying. No one killed Madison.
Colleague: Not Madison. I meant Garfield.
Me; Oh. You might want to start worrying again.
This past week on My Cat from Hell, Jackson Galaxy worked with a couple. The woman had a cat; her boyfriend had a fear of cats. This was a huge fear. He was sure that cats wanted nothing more than to scratch his eyes out of his face. And it was a fear that he had been bred into him. Apparently, he was the latest of generations of family members who feared cats. He didn’t just not care for them; he was petrified.
Part of Jackson’s therapy was for the guy to have play time with his girlfriend’s cat and also to visit a cat cafe. At the end of the show, Jackson and the couple returned to the cafe and left the guy there surrounded by cats.
After the commercial, they walked into the cafe and asked him how he was doing.
“I kissed a cat,” he answered.
It was a happy ending, but it got me thinking about my own fears and how I’ve grown to accept them over the years. Perhaps it’s time I take out a couple out for a walk in the sunlight and maybe even kiss one.
Yesterday as I planned to go to lunch, I found that my sunglasses were broken. This was annoying since it was sunny, and I was going to walk to my favorite restaurant. But, unfortunately, it’s not an unusual occurrence in my life.
I blame my job. Library workers can’t help loving books and never want to be without a good read wherever they find themselves. So right now, in my purse, in addition to a wallet and some lip gloss, I have the following:
- a physical book that I’m almost done with,
- an iPad mini that holds several other books and magazines so that I have something to read if I’m not in the mood for the physical book,
- a pair of reading glasses that I only need if I’m reading a book with small print, which is almost never, but who wants to to take the chance?
- a rubbery implement called a BookBone that holds down the pages on the physical book, and
- a notebook in case I get some good ideas while reading.
Obviously, my sunglasses don’t stand a chance. But I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. No Sunglass Hut or designer frames for me.
I went to Target and tried on new sunglasses. One pair was lovely with gray rims and a shape that fit my face. I looked at the price tag: $20. I looked at my purse. I moved over to the $7.99 pairs.
The Great Dingo/Bingo Confusion.
Amy: “Look at this cute dog.”
Me: “Oh, he’s cute. And his name is Dingo. How perfect.”
Pam: “Do you guys remember that song, Bingo?” (Starts singing: ‘B-I-N-G-O.)
Amy: “But his name is Dingo. As in ‘the dingo ate your baby.'”
Pam: “They made a song about that?”
Pam: “Then why are you talking about it?”
Amy: “It’s the dog’s name.”
Pam: “What dog?”
Me: “We definitely need more students on Friday afternoons.”
I have so many areas in which to improve that I can’t choose. Probably the one that would help me the most would be to get up early each morning. But I failed at that one this very day. So I’m moving on.
Others I considered:
- 10,000 steps each day. I’m consistent at this, but on the weekends, I visit my mom, it’s almost impossible. So that’s out.
- Cutting out sugar. Ha! Just kidding. That’s never going to happen.
- Lifting weights to give my arms some needed definition and so I can lift myself up if I ever fall off a mountain.
- Writing everyday.
And the winner is: Writing everyday. I have fallen out of my daily writing habit. So it’s time to get back in the groove.
Send good thoughts my way.