Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I recently bought a bag of organic concord grapes. The bag is paper, with a handle, and sometimes I carry around whatever grapes I have left in it. These are very sweet and delicious grapes, maybe the best I ever bought, but after several days I still have a several bunches left. This is mostly because these grapes take some time to eat. Each one is a labor of love. I bite the grape gently and a sweet grape flavor pops into my mouth. Did you get that about grape flavor? I have tasted grape juice and grape candy and grape soda. I have tasted grape flavor, but despite all the vast grapes I have eaten, I am not so very familiar with the taste of a grape in, well, a grape. All your table grapes and your thompson and your flame and your red globes don't, it turns out, have much flavor. They have their sprightly candy fruit burst, their texture can be enjoyable, their coolness, their juice, but flavor? Flavor, a real flavor, a definable taste, a character, is in this concord grape in a way that dwarfs the puny flavors of all the other table grapes I have known.

But there is work, such work. Don't try and talk while eating these grapes. Your mouth will have far too much to do with these grapes for that. Like I said there is that first soft bite, soft so you don't crush into the two or three or four unenjoyable to chew seeds. Then your mouth begins its elaborate calisthenics. Your molars gently hold the skin while the delicious grape juice trickles down to your throat. The pulpy, almost pleasantly viscous, but still distinctly flavorful, center seed mass gets routed to your tongue, where the tip of it, against the roof of your mouth and the edges of you front teeth, starts to pry it apart. Further squeezing pops the seeds one by one out of the pulp and, with tongue and jaw laboring, you move each seed to be tucked away on the side of your mouth opposite where you stowed the skin. From there you can chew up the edible parts or spit the seeds or do whatever you want. I walk around with the seeds in my mouth, faintly confused about what to do with them.

But this is your grape. Do with it as you will.

Monday, September 29, 2014


Our little meeting rooms are popular. Not the ones you can schedule, though those are popular too, rather the ones that are first come, first serve, the ones that are like little dining rooms, or, like dorm rooms, or very basic hotel rooms, or whatever. I mean, they're very versatile, which is probably why they're so popular. Need a place to feed and water your traveling carnivorous plant collection, well, if you can score one of those little meeting rooms, more power to you. Who am I to deny you your passion for horticulture.

Of course the trick is in actually getting one of those little rooms. Many inquire, but if someone is asking it's probably already too late. In the morning we roll back the entry gates and a small, avid crowd of library patrons floods upon the library. Do they need my help at the front desk? No, I am a blurry piece of scenery. Do they need books? Bosch, we have tons of books, no hurry there. Are they eager to grab a computer? They are popular, but my library has 137,613 computers so they tend to stay available throughout the day. No, there is only one precious, divine resource to heat the peoples' blood at my library, and that is private space. And so they come, on foot and in wheelchairs, hobbling with canes, sprint walking and with laser focus, laden with luggage, equipment, three full square meals, all pouring towards those precious seven little meeting rooms. Seeing so many people right at the opening of the library always makes me think that I will be needed at the front desk, but only the very last of the crowd is not moving at an earnest, intense, and focused pace. Only the last of the crowd saunters over to me at the service desk.

I am ready to help. A book she's looking for, perhaps. Maybe she'd like her own library card or wants to know who wrote Grieg's piano concerto in A minor, Op. 16 (Grieg! I don't even need to look it up on the Internet, but I will just to make sure. You never know with these things). Maybe she needs to know where the bathrooms are, or who writes the best cookbooks.


"I hear," She says "That you have some private meeting rooms."

"Ah" I reply sadly "We used to. But we've already been open for 17 seconds. They are long gone. Long gone."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

All the crazy people

Oh, how nice of you to join us. We were talking about crazy people at the library. I have all my facts and figures here. Scientific scrutiny is so comforting when we discuss hot button words like "Crazy". No, you didn't miss anything. No, this post didn't start in the middle, you came in the middle but we were just so glad to see you that we forgot everything we already said.

1. The Internet gives five or six varying definitions for crazy and with some work you can dig out a few more ("mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild or aggressive way" was the first one I found, but "foolish" and "extremely enthusiastic" were readily about too), but there are actually so many acceptable definitions for crazy that there is nothing, no situation or noun or modulation of feeling, no level of emotional heat for which "Crazy" isn't appropriate. How about this one: with a bit of slight bending, there is no adjective in the English language that "Crazy" cannot be a synonym for.

2. Technically speaking, anywhere from .07 percent to 94 percent of our library patrons are actually crazy. This roughly reflects the statistics for the general human population population as well, but a lot of scientists feel it narrows down the range too much.

3. There is nothing funny about "Crazy", and it is the exact epicenter of humor.

There is a man at my library who needs help all the time. Computers and computer devices are his hobby, and yet he cannot figure the simplest things out on his own. "I have all these email messages that have titles, but how do I get in to read the message?" He might ask. So you walk over to show him. "See," You say gently. "You have to click on the title, and then it shows you the message."

"OH!" He says. But he will not remember. There may be a similar question later that day, and tomorrow, and many more questions. At some point you have to say "I cannot help you any more today." This in itself is confusing to him. This is confusing to me too! Nothing scrambles me more than not being able to help someone.

I don't really have a diagnosis. There has to be some kind of Alzheimer's in there or something, something that both makes him forget what he is taught and forget that he is terrible at computers and problem solving, because he is. It also makes him forget that computers are completely unrewarding to him.

He is a nice man. All the helpful people at the library have had to learn to take a line with him (the unhelpful ones just start out with a bunch of lines for everyone). I used to get much more irritated with him, but one day I pulled the word "Crazy" out for him. I said to myself "Oh, he is crazy." This has made me a lot more sympathetic to him. Nevertheless, I'm not above siccing him on the sorts of librarians who I think deserve that occasionally. 

They can call me crazy to themselves if they want. Ninety-four percent of us are.

Binge blog 2

Saturday, September 27, 2014


I have no succinct idea of what the word "Crazy" means. I only know that it's inflammatory, inappropriate, affectionate, scathing, appreciative, and gently blunt. Somewhere in my fantasy of the Internet is a vast dictionary where words are given their appropriate definitions, and their appropriate definitions contradict, sprawl, and tunnel under their border walls. Their border walls also fall into disuse and the meanings of words cease to go anywhere near them. And the definitions seethe and hide and run on for hours and hours.

I guess what I'm saying is that I often come upon words that any normal dictionary is unable to do  anything more than abridge to the point of total misrepresentation, because a full service definition for many words will run you a dozen pages, and can start to push your dictionary way farther into art than you wanted to go, and result in your ridiculous dictionary project carrying on for several hundred small print volumes. My library doesn't carry one of those dictionaries. There is no dictionary like that on the Internet. 

Shakespeare said, in the person of Hamlet "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." He could totally have been talking to me! And he is so right, because Shakespeare was like that, but that doesn't mean that, wait, I want Horatio to say it back, here:

Hamlet: There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Horatio: You are right again, Mr. Hamlet,
But note that I have thought,
Of many things that heaven and earth,
Will never get to see.

This is not a preparation for me to give you the complete definition of the word "Crazy". I could conceivably be interested in doing that, but it exceeds my space here, my time. To undertake such a task I could not just blog for one day on the word, rather I would have to turn over my whole blog to it. Are you ready for a blog all on "Crazy"? Me neither! I need to talk about moose occasionally. I need to reorder the world as I see fit. I need to tell you about fall! I am no specialist!

Nevertheless  this delicate, insulting, sloppy, piercing, unwise, colorful word, "Crazy", comes up quite a bit at my work. I have to use it. There are so many people I deal with every day with whom the word "Crazy" is my solace, my explanation, my way forward. Does it mean that I'm running around the library muttering about all the crazy people all the time? Well, sort of, but I don't mean to do that. I mean, I'm not aware I'm muttering like that. If you see me doing it, just, maybe, quietly say to me, in a soft, gentle voice "Er, excuse me, but you're sort of muttering a little about all the crazy people."  Thanks.

I think I will leave it there for now. Tomorrow I will pursue the details of crazy people at my library. Normally I avoid these sorts of exciting cliffhangers, but now that my blog is entirely devoted to the word "Crazy" it will all be one great big continuous discussion, so you should probably remember to come back and read this tomorrow to refresh your memory, or you can memorize it, or just hope I change my mind and write about something else tomorrow, or figure you'll work out whatever context you need to when you're faced with whatever I write tomorrow, or you can simply never read my blog ever again because you don't read "Crazy" blogs.

Any of those will work, but of course there are other options. There always are.

Binge blog 1

Friday, September 26, 2014

Binge blogging begins

Every once in awhile on my blog I like to shake things up. For instance once I conducted something I called "Short post week" wherein I posted as many as seven short blog posts in a single day. I think that was back in the seventies and presaged the age of twitter, which, you will be delighted to hear, is now over. Indeed, this morning twitter closed down completely and everyone all over the Internet went back to reading slow, thoughtful, non commercial blogs. So maybe I should just step aside here for a moment and welcome what is probably a whole raft of new twitter refugees:

Hello new post-twitter readers, welcome to my world where nothing that can be said in 10 words can't also be said in 475 words and where all content comes with a complimentary array of asides, like the one you are reading right now!

Where was I?

Yes! Thank you. Shaking things up. I had the experiment here where I kept you appraised of what was on the free food table at my job on a real time basis. And I had the week where I discussed moose in every post (which elicited precisely one comment from a reader: "So, um, what is going on with you and moose?" which is a dispiriting question to have to face after you have spent a week answering that question).

Anyway, that's all the examples I can think of now, though there are probably thousands more, but my point is that I like, occasionally, to work up a meaningless experiment for my blog, devotedly execute it, taking scrupulous notes all along like the rigorous scientist I am, and then, when done, forget all of it forever.

Sound like fun?

Let's get started.

I am going to binge blog. Tomorrow morning I am going to wake up, grab a four-gallon carafe of cold pressed Peruvian coffee, turn on my computer, watch my computer crash, start my computer again, and then I am going to blog til I drop.

I am going to blog and blog and blog until I can blog no more.

Wait! Here's the part that makes it almost entirely meaningless to you:

It's not like I will be publishing these blog posts as I write them. No, you will not be seeing four or 11 blog posts tomorrow. They will merely come out in their same, steady, one every morning pace in which they always come out. Indeed my blog will look and operate almost exactly as it always does.

But before you gnash your hair out and cry "Why are you telling me about your meaningless, behind the scenes, blog machinations?" let me note my recurring use of the word "Almost". There will be a small note on each of these binge blog post thus:

Binge Blog #1

Which means, yes, you can play along at home! Which is really all I offer here, the ability to play along at home. What happens when a blogger over blogs? Probably nothing, but with a scorecard it may very well be as fun as bingo!

See you bright and early tomorrow.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The price of peevishness

In case you were wondering, it is okay to get a little righteous at work, a bit peevish, to cry out

"Who packs a box like this!"
"What alphabet are these people using!"
"Why would someone leave this here!"
"Who can't put a stupid date slip in the bins!"
"What would possess someone to write such a confusing note!"
"Why would someone take the last slip and not replace them!"
"Who would tell a patron such a thing!"
"Who would...

Oh, right, yes, that can go on for awhile. Sorry.

It's okay to get a little peevish at work, a touch outraged. Just, you know, try to keep it under a hundred times a day. It's bad for your soul if you go over a hundred times a day.

But even if you only have 50, or so, bursts of offended, peevish, disgruntled outrages, which is a totally natural amount, and perfectly healthy, there is still a price to pay.

"Who are these people always talking about the price to pay!"

Sorry, but, yes, there is a price, and here it is:

For everything you get all righteous and peevish about, your own behavior must be scrupulous.

I know, ouch.

Don't worry, I'm not talking about irritation or disappointment. I'm not talking about being bummed out because someone before you left you a bunch of work at the easy, phones work station when you were planning on a relaxing hour there. You don't have to be scrupulous. You can just do your tithe of work and pay forward your disappointment to the next disappointed person. What I'm talking about is complaining. I'm talking about getting on your high horse and looking down, with recrimination, upon these people who have failed you. If I am putting a book in one of the boxes for delivery to another library branch and it's irritatingly packed in an illogical, messed up way, and I want to cry out to whoever is in the vicinity "Don't people know how to pack a stupid box! Is it that hard!" So that they look at me nervously, I really have to have my ducks in a row. I have to be a master box packer. Not only do I have to pack my boxes with a scrupulousness that would never cause one of my co-workers to cry out as I have done, but I must feel so strongly about it that I fix the boxes that someone else has packed so obscenely. 

But here's the thing: while I pack that box I get to mutter, a lot, and feel very, very, very superior. So there are perks, too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bob Dylan's favorite blog

People sometimes ask me what it's like being Bob Dylan's favorite blog.

It's very nice but, complicated. Very complicated.

Look, I am delighted when anyone likes my blog, let alone a cultural giant of Shakespearean stature, but I'm just a person. I write these posts one day at a time, non commercially, for my own enjoyment, and for yours, if it works out that way.

And he writes me a lot.

"What did you mean," Bob Dylan asks, in one of his frequent missives in the comment section here "When you compared the whole surface of the Internet to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups? Because I have this theory, you know?"

"I just write them because that's how it feels, Bob. I don't have all the answers. If you have a theory, that's great. Maybe you should write a song about it." I hate how churlish I sound, but after 100 comments like he writes I start to feel like he thinks I have some secret line to the heavens.

He sends me emails too. Lots of them, late at night, I think after shows, when he's all wound up.

"Hey," He writes "I was thinking about your post on danger and power and the hierarchy of responsibility. I mean, I thought about it for a long time, and it really made me wonder: Do you think I should give my daughter a call?"

"I'm glad you liked that post and that it meant something to you, Bob, and I think you're as great a singer/songwriter as ever existed, so sometimes I feel almost like I know you too, but we don't know each other. Not really. I don't know anything about you and your daughter. I'm just a blog you read. Maybe in some other life we'd be great friends, but in this one we just don't know each other."

No matter when I write him I seem to get a response back a few minutes later:

"What did you mean by 'maybe in some other life we'd be great friends'?" Bob asks "I feel that way too, that there's like a link between us."

"Get some sleep, Bob, maybe take a break from that endless tour of yours, okay?"

"Do you think so?" Bob writes back instantly "Should I take a break? Maybe go see my daughter?"

"Okay, I'll tell you what to do, but I don't know better than anyone else. Yes, take a break from the tour. Go spend a week with Tom Petty. Just hang out, nothing fancy. After that, find out if your daughter wants to hear from you. If she really does, call her, but listen to her, okay?"

"Thanks man. I will. I'll do just that. Thanks a lot. This means a lot to me. I mean it."

"Okay, get some sleep Bob."

"I just want to read through your Moose posts a couple more times."

"Okay. Good night Bob."

Fame, man, fame. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The personalities of groups

I heard a professor of the classics on the radio the other day. The radio, for those of you wondering, is kind of like an audio-only version of the Internet, with fewer websites, which radiophiles, or "listeners", call "stations". Anyway, this professor said something interesting. He said he feels he is successful if he reaches merely one or two out of a hundred of his students. He says to his students "My God! You must read The Decameron some time." And then a year later he gets a letter from one student saying "You said I should read The Decameron so I did and it changed my life!" And the professor is satisfied even if he had no impact on anyone else.

I find this a helpful perspective.

And so sometimes I quietly share my blog post around to the relevant sort of communities on the Internet. By relevant communities I mean that I write about cats and bicycling and bowling and libraries and Bob Dylan and mooses and the Internet and James Joyce and Disneyland and The Decameron. Many of these interests have communities of some kind on the Internet where it is vaguely possible, sometimes, to share my relevant post with them.  And after sharing a few times with these communities I get a kind of weird sense for their personalities. I'm not saying I get a lot of reaction, I count one out of a hundred readers finding some pleasure in my blog post as a success, but occasionally there is a comment, or a lot of page views, or a conspicuous silence from that community, and it gives me a sense, a sense for the personality of a hobby or interest. 

And my senses I share with you! So here is a selection:

Cat Fanciers pretty much have to be pried off of their GIFs and cute pictures, and even then, if you manage that, they are most interested in bathroom, food, and behavioral problems. But never will they offer an unkind word! 

Bicyclists, the ones who are really serious about it, don't think anything is funny.

Bowlers are even worse than bicyclists and will read nothing that is not by someone who averages over 200 and is either humblebragging or discussing technique. Which is why I feel lucky that I am rarely compelled to write about bowling.

Library people delight most to read about themselves, and they are ever so quiet!

Bob Dylan is, as we know, a huge fan of this blog (hi Bob!), but his fans are fastidiously mild and sometimes even cooly disdainful about absolutely everything that is not Bob Dylan.

Moose fans are, well, I haven't really found them yet, but I imagine they are sad, oh so sad.

Internet people seem to be open to, and very positive about new ideas, but it's hard to  tell if any of those "people" are real.

James Joyce fans are just so happy to hear him discussed that they immediately want to share all their James Joyce experiences.

Disneyland people are the happiest people on earth, well, as long as you swaddle them in thick blankets of nostalgia.

Decameron fans are, er, uh, actually this is my first post that discusses The Decameron in any way. Perhaps someone could direct me to the place on the Internet where The Decameron fans all hang out? I finally have something to share with them!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Rules for rule breaking bicyclists

Despite all my Anarchist leanings I am something of a lover of the law. It's just that I am not keen on the laws of others. I prefer to write all laws and rules for myself. I don't seem to mind writing them for other people either, which is probably safe enough as long as I have no power of enforcement.

Anyway, true to all this, I have written up this sketch of rules for rule breaking bicyclists. I try to abide by them myself, but when I don't abide by them I have another set of rules for that. And so on and so on and so on.

1. For those who do not announce "On your left" when passing:

God bless you! But I have a rule for you. If there is absolutely no way to pass, via grass or curb or daredevil jump, it would be best to say something rather than just plowing into everybody. Try not to be peevish.

2. For those who don't wear a helmet.

Good for you. No one wore helmets when I was a kid and I'm still alive to tell it. I had two biking accidents, both as a child without a helmet. In one I fell into an amazingly thorny bush. A helmet would have been no help. In the other I, uh, this is embarrassing, but, um, I hurt my penis. I think on the handlebars. It was quite a fall! Let's just say, a helmet wouldn't have helped, though a cup would have. Still, skulls bleed gobs, and bashing your head kills you just like that, so my rule for not wearing a helmet is: don't fall, which is also a good rule if you do wear a helmet. But still...

3. For those who ride their bike on the sidewalk.

Yes the sidewalk is irresistible. It is off the nasty car infested roads, and it is peacefully bordered by greenery. Who wouldn't want to ride there? But if you do, you must ever be sheepish and humble, ride over lawns and into ditches to wildly avoid the walkers that really belong there. Go slow, and always keep in mind that you are a self invited guest in someone else's house.

I've got more rules for here, aye more rules for everywhere, laws, laws, laws, but this will do for now. I still have roughly 14,000 blog posts to come up with over the course of my blog's projected forty year life. I'm not saying I'm holding back, just, each day one has to decide to draw the line somewhere.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The hierarchy of responsibility

I have written here about what I take to be a passive aggressive irksomeness in the announcement of bikers who pass me. "On your left!" they say according to law, or custom, or etiquette, I'm not sure which. All I know is it has always startled me into dangerous jolts and lurches and made me wonder just what's going on with these bikers. Most of these paths are quite wide. Why do I feel a thinly veiled peevishness in their alerting announcement?

So I left my pronouncement as:

"Please don't say 'on your left' if you can at all avoid it"

And that was that.

Then something happened. I started passing people on my bike. Oh, it still doesn't happen often. I am not fast on a not fast bike. But it happens, and it has given me a curious new view, a view that many a biker before had, and perhaps still has, of me.

It runs roughly like so:

What are these people doing on these bike paths! Are they drunk? Look at them, on foot or by bike, weaving across three large biking and walking lanes so as to effectively shut them down. Is it so hard to walk in even a vaguely straight line? Or how about these people, in tandem with one or more other people, spread out, just so, to take up every  bit of possible passing space short of veering into the trees. Irritating! Infuriating! I am almost of a mind to (quietly) yell at the selfish fools:

"On your left."

That will show them. And certainly no one could fault me for it.

So now I understand.

But I still argue against calling out "On your left" no matter how fun it might be to see those self involved walkers, and maddeningly moseying bikers, jump and scatter.


The more powerful you are the more responsible you are. I don't care how infuriating and annoying and clueless are those people below you, you, to some extent, are obliged to watch out for them. Big trucks for cars, cars for bikes, bikes for walkers and everything in between. My bike cannot kill your car. I do not have plush seats and power acceleration and heating and immunity. Power is danger. If you take on that power you are responsible for that danger. My 10 miles an hour on a bike creates a danger that simply does not exist purely among walkers. And so I am a steward of that danger, a shepherd of those walkers. They may bug me, but I do not have the right to discomfit them.

And so it is in all things across the world. Heed well rich people, strong people, powerful people, everywhere.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The map of the Internet

I imagine that many clever people have attempted to map the Internet in a variety of ways. But since I assume these are mostly analytical, mathematical, graphical and literal mappings I can't be be bothered to look too far into it. This is because I am thinking of a different sort of map of the Internet, an analogical one, a metaphorical one, my kind of map, a map that can help us to visualize and see. Let us translate the inconceivable Internet into a landscape we can begin to understand.

Yes, this is my spoken map of the Internet.

Feel free to use it to get around. I think it will help.

Let us begin appropriately for a creation like the Internet, one that is so incorporeal, and even more appropriately for a map, by slowly descending to the Internet from above. There it is laid out below us. It is vast and clean and sort of featureless from a distance. And the cleanliness is like a hospital from a dream, or a vast new city just built that no one has moved into yet. It is pristine because nothing ages or decays there. It is only as we drift down closer and closer that we see what this means; the endless piles and accumulation, not of the garbage dump, it is not fetid. It is fresh frozen, and ever accumulating without loss or compression.

Ah, now we make out the surface, that great strange sea, gaining in texture as we come near. Almost at a single moment the bright colors come clear: candy! The whole surface of the Internet is candy! Cheap, familiar, brand name candy, Hersheys and Kit Kats and Butterfingers and Almond Joy and on and on. Oh, there are chips too, sour cream and onion flavored Pringles and Lays and Ranch Doritos. All the sleek, perfect, opulent, colorful packaging. Eat all you like! You could never exhaust this fecundity of junk food.

"But, is there any good candy on the surface of the Internet?" You ask.

What do you mean? Look at all the colors! It is a rainbow! Do you dislike the sweet? The Salty? Have you forgotten how delicious a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is? Eat a thousand!

Okay, that is the whole of the inexhaustible surface of the Internet. But an aerial view can only tell us so much. There is more, much more under this packaged candy strewn surface.

So we reach down and find...

Only more candy, pictures of candy, tales of candy, offerings of candy, directions to candy, candy.

This surely can't be all. And it isn't. This is why a normal map would just not do.

Without intention one cannot get past the candy, but pick something. Go ahead, anything. Did someone say Japanese Musicals. That will do indeed! Now we are looking for Japanese Musicals and suddenly we can see them, studded underneath among the endless candy. Reach for one. Ah, just candy. Concentrate. Try again. Japanese Musicals. Here is one, no, wait, it changes to candy before our eyes. Once more, concentrate with all your might. Yes. We have done it. We have broken through to the second layer of the Internet. Well done! Information, history, news, art, philosophy, analysis, archives!

Wait! No! Don't move! Arrrgghhh!

No, don't worry, it's okay. It's an important lesson. All paths on the second level of the Internet go up, almost like escalators, back to the candy level, and the paths are everywhere.

Concentrate again on Japanese Musicals. Let's get back to the under candy level. Good. Now the only way to move from here is again with attention, specific focus. It is better to get even more specific. Figure that if you are not going deeper you are going back up to the surface. Let's try Japanese Musicals of the early post war period. Yes, you will still find candy spilling down. You must ignore that. And this, you ask, what is this thing. Don't worry too much about it. It is a corpse, but they are far less menacing and horrifying down here where they don't decay, much more like wax dummies. Lots of these down here, much dead, much forgotten, all perfectly preserved exactly in place forever. Occasionally they have something useful on them, but mostly you just want to move on. Yes, there are indeed many corpses, and when you get even deeper down, it's mostly corpses.

So bit by bit we work our way down with early post war Japanese Musicals, poking ever deeper with our more and more specific searches. We're looking into the movie Tokyo Kid and director Torajiro Saito. We use translation pages so we can search further in Japanese. We have made it to the edge of the third level. Don't move. Don't even breathe. Everything is cliffs here, gaping holes, dead ends, things that will fling you back to the surface, and bridges out everywhere. The surface of the Internet is so shiny and sweet and full and endless, but by the third level one can easily see that everything here is under construction, partially done, unfinished, and abandoned. Everything now is about getting around. Sometimes we must even build the Internet ourselves just to get from one place to the next. We make our own ladders now. How deep does it go?

It goes much deeper, but this is the end of our map. A small guide. It is a map and not the thing in itself.

And yet, oddly, it also is the thing itself, for this is a blog post, and so of the Internet indeed. And I have taken you to the edge of the third level. Watch your step on the way out.

Friday, September 19, 2014

If I were King of the library: The Seventh Decree

It has been a long time since I did one of these Dr. Seuss "If I ran the Library" sorts of posts, but for the past few weeks I have been thinking about them again. I felt maybe it was time for something new in my little dream library, my fiefdom, but what? Then, this morning, in my role as supply procurer, I received a library catalog supplement, and on the cover was my answer. There, featured, was an old fashioned book pocket with checkout card, and a date/month stamp.
The Retro Library!

The Retro Library shall be gloriously, nostalgically analog! It will be its own discreet section of the library, cataloged purely in a beautiful, burnished antique wooden card catalog system. There will be hand checkouts only, in some arcane system we'll need some old person to explain to us. There shall be no computers, blocked WiFi, check your cell phone at the door, and, here's the kicker: no books constructed later than 1970 will be allowed. This means the librarians will have to be creative, passionate about collection, and fanatic, inspired book collectors (set them loose with a reasonable budget on the struggling, non chain used book stores in town. No, they cannot order online!). Those among my readers who are not library workers and not strongly acquainted with libraries will no doubt say "That is the simplest thing in the world! Surely that would easily describe the skills, ambitions, and talents of every public librarian there is!" Alas, but for those of us who know, the reality is less sunny. All that being forced to walk the cruel line between popularity and quality, buying from one big vendor, having so little room to experiment, has dulled their ancient skills. Here is their chance to take it back.

And in our Retro Library we need not stop with the collection, or the cataloging, or the checkout system. Our decor, our furniture, our shelving, shall all be pre-1970. So too will our phone, which we will keep under a towel in a drawer because it's a library and we need to muffle the ringer. Our dress code shall be pre-1970 (for staff, but if patrons want to dress up, more power to them). I am willing to put on a nice, baggy brown suit to pull a stint in there. I don't know if I'm willing to shush people, but I think I can work up to that.

So there it is, our completely retro library section. Put on a derby hat or some bobby socks or something, hop on a streetcar, and come on by! But not in the evenings or weekends. We'll be going with the retro hours as well.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Service animals

One of our local group homes is part of a pilot program involving domestic fowl service animals. Apparently these birds are cheaper to train than dogs, and they work well with severely impaired people, especially ones with limited motor skills. Some of the chickens, particularly the Dutch Bantams, who are supposedly very well suited to this work, are quite beautiful. And it's kind of neat to have a fancy chicken hand you a library card from its beak. Like so many things at my job the best approach is to act as if it's normal and pretty soon, it comes to you; it is normal! For good or ill just about everything is.

It is also a joy to see a group of disabled people working their way through the library with a small retinue of turkeys, chickens and guinea fowl, who are subtle vocalizers and the best of the three at quietly conveying their intentions. For some reason I wish someone had a duck, maybe just because I like them, but apparently ducks are poorly suited to this sort of work, too independent minded, and the wrong sort of beaks. Geese are considered too big, and apparently potty train badly. But even among what is known as "The Big Three" (chickens, turkeys and guinea fowl) the variety amongst the birds can be dazzling. Blue chickens? Green, orange and umber turkeys? Oh, and those daffy, brilliant guinea fowl with red eyes and bright blue heads looking sideways at you like they know just what you're thinking! Ah, how a small troupe of wheelchairs, attendants, and fancy birds in quiet procession never fails to make me happy that I work where I do, in a land of pure imagination.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Is it that people fear to be imposing? They don't want to ask too much? Whatever it is I find that people's initial parlay with me at the front desk of the library is nearly reliably opposite to what they say it is. If a patron comes to me, almost in passing, and says they just have a quick question, I know that I will still be with them 15 minutes later explaining minute details of the Peloponnesian War. If someone asks me to briefly show them how to print something on their computer I rest assured that 20 minutes later I will be down on the floor with the whole computer disassembled doing soldering work on the motherboard. And if a couple of people come to the service desk and say they just need library cards, well, they probably do just need library cards, but the use of the word "just" somehow seems all wrong because creating library cards actually ranks pretty high on the list of irksome, laborious tasks I have to do at the front desk, but only if it is treated with a lack of sufficient gravity.

This isn't just idle grousing though. It runs the other way too. If a patron comes to the desk and sheepishly admits they have a huge problem that I probably can't help with because it's hopeless, they're probably going to be asking me what the name of that movie was with Orson Welles, you know, about the rich guy and his sled. All they know is that "Citizen" is in the title. Long, apologetic preambles are usually going to lead to questions about whether or not we have a copy machine, or what time it is. And people probably don't even ask things like "Do you carry non fiction books?" out of fear of overwhelming us.

I find this dynamic particularly true with donations. The more people act as if they are giving us the crown jewels and want donation receipts, profuse thanks, and perhaps a fancy, embroidered "Library Donor" satin jacket, the more I can be sure they are donating a torn bag of old, yellow Nora Roberts paperbacks that rats have been chewing on and that smell faintly of vomit. Whereas if we are treated like some sort of gods at the front desk, receiving the patron's pathetic offering, and they act as if they are barely even worthy of talking to us directly, we'll usually be getting a complete set of Jane Austen first editions, along with maybe some old letters of hers that will be fun to look at before we sell it all off to fund our addiction to 3D printers and projectors powerful enough to cast a 40 foot high image at a distance of 50 yards in full sun while only looking sort of washed out. Those babies are expensive!

So why are people so obverse? My theory is that everyone is so used to not being properly paid attention to that they've, er, we've, adopted a lot of unconscious, attention getting devices like this dissonance, this sudden change in tempo."Quick question: What is the meaning of the universe?" Wait, what? That's not quick. You need a whole library clerking blog to answer that! But this sort of device is such old hat it doesn't work anymore. We're already rolling our eyes at "Quick question" It's overuse has left only one place to go. 

Yes, I find it painful too. But, speak directly, honestly, and proportionately to me at the desk. These days it never fails to blow my mind.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

So simple

Here is the rule:

A patron must have an I.D. of some kind, or a library card, to check items out.

Here is the incident:

Nervy Ms Grunewald, a unique and difficult patron who likes to challenge and contentiously engage with library policy, both when it affects her and when it does not, but also likes to get things to go her way, has not brought her I.D. or her library card. The clerk, who knows who Ms Grunewald is, won't check out to her without them. The manager backs up the clerk.

I found this incident very interesting. So I queried as many of my co-workers as I could. It was supposed to be an impartial survey, but within seconds, with each person, I was sharing my opinion, which just goes to show what a terrible reporter I'd make, unless I could be, like, one of those "New Journalists" a la Tom Wolfe or Hunter S. Thompson. As long as I am free to hallucinate giant lizards during my reporting then I suppose I can be an okay reporter.

Here is what I found out in my survey:

1. Roughly half of my co-workers would have checked items out to Ms Grunewald and roughly half of them would not have checked out items to her.

I would have.

2. Nearly everyone cited "trouble" in regards to their choice. The not checking out group said they feared Ms Grunewald would make some trouble for them if they broke the policy. The checking out half did not want the trouble in refusing the difficult and contentious Ms Grunewald. 

I agree with the second group here in the sense that Ms Grunewald never makes trouble over getting her way. I differ from both groups though in that trouble was no part of the basis for which I would freely check items out to Ms Grunewald.

3. Everyone was agreed that the policy dictated that they not check items out to Ms Grunewald, whether they actually decided to or not.

Except me! I consider our knowledge, in our brains, that Ms Grunewald is indeed Ms Grunewald, to be a fully adequate and acceptable form of I.D.  I believe I might have convinced a couple of my co-workers of the validity of this interpretation by posing the question "If your spouse, or co-worker came to you without a card would you need to see their I.D. to check items out to them?"

4. Finally, everyone was agreed that Ms Grunewald was awful and unlikeable.

Alas, I am alone again. Go Ms Grunewald!

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Samurai and the Zen cat

Working as I do at a library I come across books every once in awhile. Today, while processing requested materials, I stumbled upon a book called, roughly, Cats In Myth and Legend. Always in a state of deprivation for good cat stories I opened it with interest. Having only a small amount of time I chose a cat story from the "Trickster" section, a Zen cat story from Japan.

Alas, it was not good. Not good at all.

But there were some good things in its structure, and I thought "I can fix this story."

Maybe I can and maybe I can't. Who knows?  But I will endeavor to try.

The Samurai and the Zen Cat

There was once a mighty Samurai, a master of the sword, the greatest swordsman in all of Japan. So unstoppable was he with his sword that no one any longer dared stand against him. So he retired. He found a lovely, snug home on a clear lake surrounded by cherry trees, and he began a quiet life of reflection, practice, study, and peace.

This went well for a few short months.

But there came a day when the great Samurai's lunch needed a bit more tamari. He traveled to another room for it and, when he came back, he found a large, dirty, gray rat, sitting on his dining table, noisily munching on one of his soba noodles, and staring, with sharp little red eyes, at the Samurai Master.

The great swordsman took up his blade like it was a part of his body, and in a move that was faster than any human eye could follow, he brought it down upon the insolent rodent.

Only, the rodent was not there. Faster than the blade, the rat had scampered off with the soba noodle.

The Samurai was flabbergasted. No one and nothing had ever been quicker than his sword! Perhaps it was merely an off stroke? He tracked the rat down to a corner of the room (where it was now gnawing into a sack of rice), and, in a lunge famous for its elegance and simplicity, a stroke that he had once used to exactly bisect a fly, he sent his sword leaping through the neck of the rat.

Only, the rat moved! The blade split the sack of rice instead of the rat.

And so began a very unquiet week. The rat was everywhere, helping itself to the Samurai's very best food, chewing maliciously into his most treasured and beautiful belongings, and leaving its droppings freely in the food and bedding of the Samurai's once perfect little home. And all the damage caused by the rat was matched by the Samurai's failed attempts to exterminate the rodent. Walls were sliced, fabrics were slashed, and fine potteries were smashed by the master swordsman's errant blade.

Finally the Samurai accepted that he was overmastered by the rat. He needed help.

In the nearest town there was a Doctor who was known far and wide for his great learning. The Samurai was an old friend of him and respected him greatly. He went to him and explained his problem. The Doctor prescribed a very powerful poison that had no taste and no smell. The Samurai took it home and prepared it into the rat's favorite foods.

But no craft or guile could induce the rat to eat them.

So the Samurai went to see his friend the Hunter. "I am good at killing men." He thought. "But my friend is good at killing animals."

The hunter had just the solution. He raised hunting dogs and with care he chose the fiercest and most relentless one he had ever raised. The dog was a little Shiba-inu, but was said to be tireless in pursuit of his prey, an indomitable hunter.

The Samurai took the quiet little dog home, opened the door, and set him down. The rat dropped from one of its many warrens in the ceiling onto the kitchen table as if to taunt the dog. The Shiba-inu burst into action. There was a great flurry of animal parts, and screams, and howls, and gnashing teeth and claws. Everything standing in every room fell to the floor. The battle raged all through the house. The Samurai watched bewildered until, at last, the little dog was cowering at the the door, bleeding from a hundred wounds. The Samurai opened the door in pity, and the dog fled into the woods.

The rat eyed the Samurai, unperturbed.

"Maybe I need a different kind of help." Wondered the Samurai. 

The Samurai packed a small travel sack and journeyed into the mountains. He went to a remote Zen Monastery. He was brought to the Zen Master, and he told him his story. The Zen Master gave him an old, small, raggedy, rather sleepy looking cat.

"Oh no." Said the Samurai as politely as possible. "I, a very great swordsman, have been unable to defeat this rat, the cleverest poisons could not trick this rat, and the fiercest hunting dog was broken by this rat. This cat, with all my due respect, is barely bigger than the rat. I do not believe he can defeat the rat."

"And yet, this cat is what you need." Is all the Master would say.

So the Samurai carried the cat home. What else could he do? It took three days walking, and mostly the cat slept in his arms.

When the Samurai arrived at home he set the cat on the floor by the door. The rat dramatically dropped from the ceiling to taunt the cat. The cat looked glancingly at the rat, cleaned himself, and then took a nap. The rat eyed the cat warily.

And so it went. The rat ever with a fretful eye on the cat. The cat eating, and sleeping, and grooming, and stretching. He would look at the rat, but never would he make the slightest threat in the rats direction. The rat would challenge the cat, but the cat took no notice. The rat became more and more nervous and high strung. He reverted to eating in secret, always with an eye to the cat. His hair started falling out. He lost weight. Sometimes the cat would walk towards the rat and the rat would scurry away in a terror, but the cat would merely lie down in some chosen spot as if the rat had nothing to do with it, and the cat would have a nap.

The Samurai felt a house full of crackling tension he could barely place. The rat felt a house full of crackling tension and building terror. The cat mostly just slept and ate.

One night the cat was looking at the rat, without much interest, and the cat yawned, showing his pink tongue and his old yellow fangs. The rat, shivering in lusterless, patchy fur, half starved from nerves, finally broke down completely and went running off into the night, never to be seen again.

The Samurai petted the cat, and the cat purred.

It was the first time the Samurai had ever heard him do it.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What is a blog?

What is a blog?

You tell me, you're the person reading one.

Yes, I know, you didn't mean to, but here it is, a blog, and you are reading it.

So I ask again, what is a blog?

See, I thought you would know because I'm always all "blog this" and "blog that" and no one ever says to me "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hey, wait a second. But what exactly is a blog?" And since no one ever asks me I just figured everyone knew.

So I was hoping someone would tell me because I get a little confused.

Here is what I was thinking a blog is:

A frequently updated collection of short, often somewhat personal essays by a single author, sometimes about library work.

Here is the Internet's official definition for a blog:

A personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis.

That's not terribly far off from my thinking!

But then I looked up the most reputable, major media lists of the most influential blogs, the most admired blogs, and the most popular blogs in the world and I found that what it all really came to is this:

A blog is sort of a magazine that comes out everyday and sometimes has moving pictures and sound. 

This is definitely getting pretty far afield from what I was thinking, but we weren't even done yet. I looked at the hundred most popular blogs for a bit more, I thought very hard, and, suddenly, I had it:

A blog is every single thing on the entire Internet.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Better than Europe

I have been to a few cities in Europe, mostly the fancy, famous ones, so there's that advantage in its favor. Going to the European equivalent of Dubuque might have given me a different, harsher sense of Europe. Also I was on vacation, something that makes a person temporarily richer and happier and more magnanimous in viewpoint. But even handicapping for all that, these European cities seemed, well, markedly better than our American cities. They had consistently better food, better art, better coffee, better architecture, less crime, less chains, better transit, and even a better sport, one that normal sized people could play competitively. Indeed it would have been a complete washout for the American Cities side of things but for our one, overwhelming superiority.


The vast majority of graffiti I have seen in Europe is exactly of the nature one is supposed to think of in relation to graffiti, vast swaths of ugly vandalism, artless, full of easy hatred and pointless youth. People, with spray paint and a peculiar immunity to their own greatness, for some mysterious reason, have gone and written pointless things in artless ways all over, say, Rome, for instance. It is precisely this kind of graffiti that has caused cities and states across the world to develop draconian laws against it.

Indeed, this is such a powerful image of graffiti, an image of malicious pointlessness, that it can be hard to see what is happening in many American cities, particularly my own. 

We live in a graffiti paradise.

There, under the Franklin Avenue bridge that I cross on bike three times a week, are two new accomplished graffiti pieces. I don't know what they say, but, like the great preponderance of graffiti I run into, their expertise is utterly unmistakable. Full of 3D effects and complicated color and compositional invention, here is a sophistication of design and execution of complete reliability. No human on earth could begin to do such a thing without practice and vision and dedication. Even the second rate of these graffiti productions are a delight to me.

The Minnesota State Fair has a large and very competitive art show every year. I saw it. Sometimes this show is pretty good. This year it suffered from really horrible judges and was not very good. But either way, there are all these paintings and sculptures and drawings on the walls, and there are tens of thousands of viewers pouring through, judging, respectful, looking at all the art. Everyone in the show seems so earnestly professional, charging $1200 for their digital photographs and $2,000 for their watercolors, dreaming some famous artist dream. And, okay, good luck to them. But outside, in train yards, high on walls, hanging over the Mississippi bluffs, are complex confections of letter art and visual design, done at speed and without a hope of remuneration. People painting fine things without permission or sanction, all out of cans, all as if to say "Fuck you. I will show you something wonderful and complicated and full of skill and danger and you will think it's vandalism. You will arrest me if you can catch me. You will arrest me for art."

I just wanted to say I like that. Wild art in America. Apparently, sometimes, we do that pretty good around here.

Friday, September 12, 2014

My next book

Fall's most  feverishly anticipated new book is a Steampunk Mystery. I'm not sure of its title. Perhaps it is just called Steampunk Mystery.

Eighteen years in the future nanotech and advanced AI have brought on the robotics revolution. The world has quickly become addicted to the remarkable benefits of these dazzling machines that are making life more leisurely and luxurious for nearly everyone. "We're all landed gentry now" reads one ubiquitous advertisement. But programmer Lucy Baker has become increasingly aware that people like herself, who design the brains of these amazing machines, know less and less how their creations do the things they do. When her partner at a small, experimental robotics design lab is murdered in an astonishingly perfect crime, the facts point only to Lucy as the culprit, and she suspects that the line between AI and true creative intelligence may have been crossed in the worst way. Ill equipped to solve such a perfect crime with her meager little gray cells Lucy endeavors to create, while on the run, the greatest (and first) robot detective to solve it for her, and, hopefully, to save her life.

With limited access to her usual tools and options Lucy attempts to model her detective on the best one she can find on short notice, the fictional M. Hercule Poirot.

Under pressure and in hiding, Lucy begins creating what she thinks is her masterpiece, a work of Steampunk genius, created from desperation and from the deep, interior structures of Agatha Christie novels. Every test and diagnostic of her robot Poirot is off the charts and suggests a breakthrough in AI design. But when she initiates the irreversible start up sequence, instead of Poirot, she gets a bland, colorless, nothing.

And then she remembers to add the mustache.

Poirot is back!

Steampunk Mystery

22 City International Author Tour

Major Cities Promotional Print, Television, and Internet Campaign

"Steampunk Poirot" Tie-In Museum Exhibit Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis Contemporaries

Oprah Special Feature Book

Pre Selected Edgar Award Winner

Original Illustrations by Lucien Freud, Bansky, Cindy Sherman, Gerhard Richter, and Zeng Fanzhi

Also Possibly Available as an E-Book

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What is a...?

What is a...?
 The library version.

What is a clerk?

A person to tell you why it is impossible for them to do what you want.

What is a librarian?

A person with a lot of free time who is content not to fill it.

What is a manager?

A person who is never around when you need them and always around when you don't.

What is a library?

A place where people of all walks of life, all economic levels, races, cultures and nationalities, philosophies, religions and persuasions come together in a public place and use the Internet.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chaotic and Lawful

One of the many internal laws I have for this blog is that we never, ever discuss video games here. However, as the theme of today's post is the necessity of lawbreaking we will, appropriately, begin with a discussion of video games. But if you have no interest in video games you will not have to suffer through too much of it. Just grab a nearby railing or other solid, attached object (well, no, you will need a firmer grip than that), and I will talk you through it all as quickly as possible.

In the old style, grand adventure in some dark fantasy land computer game (derived from tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons), there was an important element involving what kind of character you wanted to play as. This element was usually defined as your alignment. You had to decide whether you wanted to be a good or evil or neutral sort of person (or elf, or whatever), but your chosen morality was also divided along another line. You had to decide whether you wanted to be chaotic good, or lawful good, chaotic evil, or lawful evil.

Now forget gaming. Let's just talk about life. Let's talk about chaotic and lawful in the real world. I suppose if these two words smack of anything, lawful tends to skew towards good, and chaotic towards evil, but the interesting thing about chaotic and lawful is that they don't work that way at all.

These are interesting words, and an interesting way of looking at morality.

Lawful is not more good than chaotic. Lawful, that is, being lawful, is actually a moral limiter. The act of being lawful will always limit the extent to which you can be good, and it will also limit the extent to which you can be bad. It is limited by the goodness or the evil of a law, and thus puts your morality partly at the mercy of those people who write the laws and at the mercy of the moral quality of the law. The world of law can as easily force you into being better as it can force you into being worse. On the other hand, to be chaotic leaves your morality entirely at the mercy of your own vision, honor, and wisdom. Endless goodness and utter depravity are in your hands.

In those video games I always play as chaotic good. Swing for the fences I say.

Life, you may be surprised to find out, is more complicated than video games. I still gravitate towards chaotic good when I can, but there is a vast array of tiny laws, at large in the world and in the microcosm of my workplace, that I adhere to so that I can avoid trouble. Working at a library I might break one of our laws and renew your book a third time because you are in a hospital because you just lost your leg (chaotic good), but I might also ignore a completely screwed up front desk situation because I am assigned to be somewhere else and don't want an evil eye from a manager (lawful evil).

So really, when we are talking about being lawful in conjunction with being good or evil, with any real moral autonomy at all, we are talking about how we spin those laws, when we can, what laws we fall in line with, and whether we honor the good spirit or bad spirit of any given law. Laws are immensely interpretable, and it is with that interpretation that we can affect our virtue.

Meanwhile with being chaotic we have a free range to try for good or evil purely as we see fit. What we contend with here tends to be the consequences of our actions. It has always been my understanding that the story of Jesus is much concerned with this. If you want to swing for the fences in pursuit of goodness, morally, expect to get nailed to a cross. And when you look around you as you're dying you will find at least some of your company to be those who went deep into wickedness instead.

So what then do I advise?

That's what you come here for, advice, right?

I won't let you down.

Here is my advice.

Be careful out there.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tiny houses

At the library I work at we have all sorts of books related to tiny houses. The tiny house movement was not just a response to America's super sizing culture, but it was also a response to our persistent cultural assumptions that everyone is fabulously wealthy, has their own personal architect, and wouldn't think twice about having to have a fleet of drivable floor cleaners and a team of maids to operate them. But not only can not everyone afford a one million square foot home, but many people, it turns out, actually prefer not having to choose amongst 20 bathrooms when they just want to take a quick pee.

As positive as this movement might be, the choice of the term "tiny" can be quite extreme in what it allows for. I have seen house designs, even pictures of actual houses that presumably people somehow manage to live in, that are under 10,000 square feet. Not having to choose amongst 20 bathrooms is one thing, but what does a person in a tiny house do when all four of their bathrooms are occupied and yet they have to go? Living more modestly and consciously and green and tiny is great and noble, but we are modern people accustomed to certain standards, certain comforts of personal space. We are not equipped to roll back the clock a hundred years to where we have only a few personal rooms per household member and most of the house staff is forced to live off premises. Luckily, as I peruse the literature, I find many of these tiny houses do not take things to such an extreme. And also fortunately I am a man of modest means who gets by on less than a million a year (it is possible!) and who also lives in a tiny house. Therefore I am here to give you some insight on how one can make it work.

1. Guest Rooms

Yes, our tiny house has just two guest rooms, and if we are entertaining there is quite a tussle for the one with the balcony overlooking the rose garden. Does all this make us less popular among our set? On the contrary. I think people take us less for granted and are more careful in the arrangement of their visits. Plus it makes it much easier to leverage out the long term unwanted guests. Furthermore it seems to keep down the number of mysterious drawing room murders that big crowds so attract. While it is engaging enough to see a brilliant detective at work, when it starts happening like clockwork every Christmas it all gets a bit tiresome.

2. Bathrooms

We don't discuss bathrooms, but, oh, fine! Six is enough. I know you will argue, but done properly and with unstinting thoroughness, six is enough. Please consider the ecology and global warming and all that stuff!

3. The Library

You know me well enough to understand that here I have not made any great sacrifices. A great  library with all the bells and whistles and first editions is the cultural soul of the home. Nevertheless combining the Observatory with the Library was a natural choice and greatly reduced our tiny home's footprint.

4. The Kitchens

Perhaps you will think me mad to say we have but the two kitchens. But then we just have Cook and Cook's assistant. With so many wonderful restaurants in our city we have been able to cut all the way to the bone here. These are different times. Why, my man Thomas rather fancies himself a bit of a study with the frittata and never minds if we ask for one in the middle of the night. This is not the Gentleman's Gentleman of my father's day and I think we are all the better for it. Nevertheless I recognize the advantages of city living, and my tiny house in the country does have a more flexible three kitchens.

5. Recreation

Laugh all you like at my two indoor paddle tennis courts, but I argue that the smaller, quicker game, a reduced version of tennis, is more engaging anyway, and easier to grow old with. Likewise the lack of an indoor Olympic Size pool. One can only swim in one lane at a time and I love the simplicity of my lap pool. Plus it makes for a clear separation from our recreational pool in the atrium. All this economy allowed for that charming little boat ride I put in off the recreational pool while still keeping the whole collection of features to a fraction the size of your average house.

6. The Studies

One for me, one for my wife, and a guest study. I somewhat regret we didn't go even more modest on this as guests rarely use the guest study, but my man Thomas quite enjoys making use of the guest study so fortunately it has not gone to waste. I know a lot of you are wondering how I get by on just the one study, but honestly, if I need a change my office is good enough, and I spend most of my time in my tinkering room (The Lab) anyway.

Of course, this isn't everything, but it gives one an idea on how to make these tiny homes work. Not all of us have the means or inclination for The Estate or The Manor House, but that doesn't mean we can't live simple, decent, and intentional lives that are also a bit more luxurious than one might think is possible. I'm not saying this humbleness is required to be a good person, but, if one has the inclination one may just find a little goodness pays some surprising dividends in happiness.