Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My healthy meal

Every day at work lately I make my daily skillet meal. I have come to think of it as quite healthy. My co-workers marvel at how tasty it smells and how delicious it looks. It is full of vegetables, and fresh, and full of goodness. I have been thinking quite well of my virtuous, delicious, and healthful eating...

Until today.

But first let me give you a rough of the recipe:

In a cheap, $5 Ikea non stick frying pan that you promise to throw away as soon as there is a scratch in the carcinogenic non stick coating, put a large chunk of butter and some olive oil. Turn the heat pretty high. Throw in salt and pepper. Coarsely cut up onions and or mushrooms and or red peppers. Get 'em going a bit. Throw in kale or broccoli or romanesco in copious amounts broken savagely into bits with your hands. Put in a good sausage, chicken italian sausage I like best, sometimes pork. I did shrimp once but didn't like it, but if it's seafood add it later in the cooking. When things are all balanced, browned and towards done throw in cubes of seeded whole wheat bread, or a couple torn up corn tortillas, some garlic, lime juice, and broken up good aged cheddar or gruyere or parmesean cheese. Seer it all up. Eat.

So this is what I was cooking, and I'd just thrown in the bread while a newer co-worker was looking on. "Oh, you put bread in it. It's like a fried sandwich!"

It is like a fried sandwich!

That doesn't sound quite as healthy.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The library cure

One of my colleagues made an announcement. He may or may not have misspoken when he said "Good afternoon library patients..." meaning our commonly used term "patrons" for "patients", but a library regular came up to me after the announcement and, with a wry glint, asked "Did he just call us "Patients"?

Easy answer. Come to us America. "Ignorance is the illness. Knowledge is the cure".

Monday, January 29, 2018

I'm in a hurry

I believe I should drive defensively and with great care. I should never take chances, always leave significant space between me and other drivers, and should stay safely near to or even under the speed limit. I should never leap into traffic, merge suddenly, squeeze in, and I should never drive with hostility or pugnacity.

And yet I also invariably believe that the person driving in front of me needs to be way more aggressive.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

A library with commitment

We had a huge snowstorm earlier this week. At least a foot of snow fell throughout the afternoon and evening. A foot of snow is a lot. It's 12 inches, even more in centimeters! Chaos gripped the city. Small children were trapped on buses without bathrooms for hours, or stranded at their schools until late in the evening. Cars littered the road shoulders. No one plowed our library parking lot. It was ugly.

But at my library we still stayed open until our regular nine o'clock closing. Libraries all across the twin cities shuttered their doors early. Ha! Quitters. Not us. We soldiered on for the full duration. There wasn't a ton to do so we staff gathered in little groups to complain about the county and how they failed to plow the parking lot. Then a librarian reported that a man harangued her about the county and their failure to plow our parking lot. We were all outraged; only we were allowed to complain about the county!

A little later, downstairs, we were at one point down to a single patron.

I ambled over to offer a rare personal touch because I had nothing else to do. 

"I bet you're wondering why it's so busy in here tonight." I said.

He raised an eyebrow.

"It's because all the other libraries are closed."

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Winter walk in Minnesota

I went on a four mile walk on a wintry day earlier this week, just at the start of a blizzard that dropped foot of snow on us.

"Oh boy!" You cry "I love when you talk about your nature walks along the river in Minnesota!"

Really? I had no idea, I mean, except in the sense that I invented you saying it.

"So what did you see?"

Well, it was snowing fiercely as I stepped out my back door. I headed directly into a powerful north wind, and though bundled up properly, my first thoughts as I embarked upon my walk was "This is going to hurt."

"Wow, then what?"

Then I walked through my neighborhood and on the paths along the Mississippi River for four miles. The walks were icy in places and covered in a just obscuring layer of new snow. I walked for an hour and a half. Heavy bits of snow blew into my face.

"Wow, yes, yes, and what did you see? Tell me what you saw. Tell me everything you saw."

I saw the ground. I saw the ground and nothing else.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Dear Phaidon Press: the prequel

Dear Publisher, Phaidon Press:

I am keen to work with you because I have written a book! And, get this, it is a book about art. I know, this is the very subject you publish books about. It's quite a coincidence. Destiny has brought us together.

You are probably wondering what would make this book I've written worthwhile for you to publish. Well, it's about art...

... which is the very subject you publish books about!

Ha ha ha. But enough joking around. I bet you want to know what the title is. You will love it. It is:

The Greatest Writings on Art Ever

That Are Short
And By a Non Historian
With this estimation of "Greatest" Being According to the Author and 2 of the Author's Blog Readers
Meaning No Offense to Any of the Other Fine Phaidon Press Authors

You are all like "I seriously love this title."

But I know. Publishing is a business. And you need something a little more to make you see that this will work out. 

That is why I have enclosed my lucky rock.

No, seriously, I know I joke around, but this is a really lucky rock. Take good care of it and I believe we will make great and lavishly illustrated with no expense spared bestsellers together.

I breathlessly await your response. Is it okay if I say that I'm super excited? 

I am super excited!

Oh, you probably should have spoken up more quickly.

With much regard,

Feldenstein Calypso

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Minneapolis miracle

In my cities our football team hoped to go to the Superbowl. This year it happens to be held in our own home stadium so making it to the finals would have been extra special. We had a good team and a fair shot at it too. But in the playoffs leading to the Superbowl the Vikings were down with mere seconds to go and only the thinnest ray of hope was hanging on. They had but one tiny last ridiculous chance.

One play, with the end zone 61 yards away, the Viking's quarterback heaved a desperate pass.

The wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught the ball up in the air. Having merely to tackle him to win the game two defenders collided awkwardly into each other instead and fell away. Diggs landed off-balance, kept his feet, stayed in bounds, and ran into the end zone to win the game.

They called it the Minneapolis Miracle.

We were doomed.

I have learned in years of watching sports that you never, ever, ever want to use a miracle up too early. Seventh game of the World Series walk off grand slam? Yes! Sixth game walk off grand slam to get to a final game? It's probably not going to work out for you. You want to end your season with a miracle, not prolong it. The prolonging it suggests your team needs extraordinary help. And when you play the next day you are still that team that blew a lead, fell behind, or looked hapless for eight innings.

I'm not so much a football fan, but I do follow the brilliant Barcelona soccer team quite closely. Ridiculously closely. Obsessively closely. So I saw this principle in action last year. They called it The Remontada. A year ago everyone in soccer knew about The Remontada. In the round of 16 in the biggest yearly tournament in soccer, an uneven Barcelona team was crushed by the Paris team 4-0. But this competition was played over two games. So though clearly inferior in the first game Barcelona could, if they won by five, move on. Long story short, through a combination of dicey calls, great soccer, and the collapse of Paris, Barcelona scored three utterly unbelievable last minute goals to win 6 to 1 and go forward in the tournament.

It was amazing. Unforgettable. Except for the fact the everyone is kind of forgetting it now because Barcelona went on to get thrashed in the next round. It was a big moment, but a less than memorable team.

And so there you have it. If you have a miracle it's probably best to walk away into the sunset, author of said miracle. Don't let anyone test you too long once you danced with the gods. If you have to come back to mop up it all starts to look like a fluke. 

And the sweetness pales, and fills with asterisks.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Staff communication, the email

Dear Staff:

Communication is the backbone of our institution. It has come to my attention that some of you are not properly using our communication protocols. Please allow me to outline our procedures for any problems you might have with your co-workers.

Let us say Elaine is using a hand lotion that makes you sneeze convulsively. Do not tell Elaine that her hand lotion is killing you!

In fact, don't approach Elaine at all. Go to your manager. Tell your manager the problem. But because you're no stoolie, don't name names. Say "Someone is using a hand lotion that I think I'm allergic to."

Your manager will commence data gathering. "What does it smell like?" She will ask.

"Grass, lavender, and, I don't know, peach? Sort of. With mandarin, sage, and cucumber."

Then she will ask "Do you know who it is that's wearing it?"

Because you are no stoolie you will say "Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom."

Your manager will know exactly who you're talking about, but not wanting to leap to conclusions will continue that data gathering process by asking Louise, who she enjoys chatting with, who is using the grass, lavender, peach, mandarin, cucumber, sage hand lotion.

Sensing a trap Louise will reply "I have to go to the bathroom."

"It's occupied." The manager will respond.

"Oh no. Is Elaine in trouble?"

"No." The manager will respond reassuringly. "It's just her hand lotion is making people ill."

Louise will now go spread the information carefully. "I guess people have been complaining about Elaine's hand lotion." She will say to her work buddy Miguel.

"I like that lotion!" Miguel will cry.

"Me too." Louise says, adding in a hushed voice "I've borrowed a little of that lotion a couple times when my hands were dry."

Miguel will say to Anthony "I can't believe people aren't even allowed to wear the hand lotion they like around here! Maybe if they didn't keep the building so ridiculously dry!"

Anthony, knowing all about the controversy already, will feel ambivalent because he doesn't have very dry hands and finds the smell a bit strong, but rather likes Elaine, who sometimes gives him gum.

So Anthony says to Elaine "I guess some people have a big problem with your hand lotion and talked to the manager about it. I didn't tell the manager it was you."

So Elaine will then go to see the manager. "I use the lime, lavender, cucumber hand lotion because my hands get dry. Is it causing someone a problem?"

Your manager will say "Oh, well someone was saying it makes them sneeze. I hardly knew what to say. These people! It's crazy around here. What's a person to do?"

"Uh, I could try using a different hand lotion." Elaine will say.

"Great." Your manager will say.

Problem solved.

Is that so difficult?

Please follow these procedures in the future. Thank you.

Your Supervisor



Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Short, and like a prayer

Truth with its paltry rewards still beats the alternatives.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Kind of day I'm having

At my job we have a kitchen, with a stove and everything.

I cook in it.

One of my co-workers complained to one of my managers about the smell from the cooking in the kitchen.

The manager asked Dan "Who cooked in the kitchen?"

I quite obviously cook in the kitchen all the time. Dan doesn't except to warm things in the microwave. So my manager asked Dan.

Dan demurred.

She named two names.

Dan refused to answer. Then he came to me to tell me how he didn't tell on me.

This is like Dan.

"Thanks for your protection Dan, but I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to cook in the kitchen."

I went to the manager.

"I cooked in the kitchen." I said.

"Should I put a sign on the door that says please close the door when cooking?"

"The door was closed, but I don't think it makes any difference either way. It's a kitchen. It gets cooked in."

"I know." My manager said. "I was amazed. I had no idea what to say."

"You could have said 'It's a kitchen. It gets cooked in.'"

"Mmm." My manager replied noncommittally. "I could have."

I cooked broccoli. We have no ventilation.

I have to admit it doesn't smell great in here.

I think I might like to try fish.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Flu shot

I got a flu shot a few days ago. So naturally I am feeling smug. I am immune entirely this year to the flu. People coughing and sneezing and touching things all around me are no problem. I am impervious to illness. I am free to be completely reckless with my health.

As you may have noticed I am quite the believer in the flu shot. I don't like the part where they stick spears of metal into my flesh. And I'm not wild about my arm hurting for two days. But that's all done now. The hard part is over and now it is the reaping benefits time.

Just how deliciously inoculated am I? I don't know, but it's probably a lot. I'll check the Internet.

Ha. According to the Internet this year's flu shot is 34% effective.

So, I'm not exactly brilliant with math, but I'm pretty sure that means...


I mean, statistically speaking.

And for the record I'm pretty sure this sore throat is nothing.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

In which I instruct Christian Bale on the romantic comedy

In an interview with the Guardian Newspaper the actor Christian Bale was asked if he has considered acting in a Romantic Comedy.

"Uh-oh." I thought.

Why did I think "Uh-oh"? 

It's hard to answer that.

Maybe because the romantic comedy is the bastard child of cinema. Something that can always be knocked to the ground and stepped on to make one's cinema bonafides eight inches taller.

"Wow, that escalated quickly." Someone says. I'm not sure who, and I hope they're not sticking up for the anti-romantic comedy bullies.

"Oh. No. I'm not!" They reply with alarm. "I'm just concerned at the vehemence in your analogy."

Yes, sure, it's just, well, let's take a look at what the acclaimed actor responded to the question:

Bale bats the question back with what sounds like a challenge. “Have you ever enjoyed a romantic comedy?” I pause and he presses the point. “Have you ever enjoyed a romantic comedy?”

Now at this point I know that I am happy with neither Christian Bale nor the interviewer. And I am so outraged I really should stop reading the interview. But then I remember; I'm on the Internet. If I'm not outraged on the Internet then I'm not doing it correctly. So I yell at the computer:


Actually I go on yelling for quite awhile as there is no one to stop me, which says a lot about the Internet. But after yelling out the titles of 112 Romantic Comedy titles that I am particularly fond of, I stop and say to my screen and to the interviewer: "Don't say it." even though I know he will, only in part because he cannot hear me. 

The interview continues:

A few, I say, but my mind blanks.
“Can you name ’em?”
Er, When Harry Met Sally.


There really is nothing wrong with When Harry Met Sally. It is almost surely in the top ten of Meg Ryan's Romantic Comedies, probably. I'd have to check. But it is the uninformed person's answer, the simple answer, the Romantic Comedy hater's answer.
Oh the hell with it, it's the wrong answer.

But not for Christian Bale. It naturally makes perfect sense to him. He says:

“That’s going back quite a ways, isn’t it? You’re hard pressed.” He shakes his head. “I was asked to do a romantic comedy recently and I thought they’d lost their minds. Cats have those insane half hours every evening. I think it must have been that for the production company. 

Now I am obliged to mention that I think Christian Bale is not a bad actor. The Big Short might be the best movie I've seen of the last several years. Unfortunately he has also been in one of the worst movies I've ever seen (I'm Not There), and probably the actual worse movie I've ever watched, the truly hideous Dark Knight Rises.
But everyone makes mistakes. And I also enjoyed Little Women, which he was in, a long time ago. Oh, and there's Howl's Moving Castle, which is almost halfway to being a Romantic Comedy. 
Anyway, I need to unpack his statement a bit. First, having to go back a ways for a good Romantic Comedy might have something to do with how hardly anyone is allowed to make them anymore, probably because no male stars will act in them. And two, maybe they asked you, Christian Bale, to do a Romantic Comedy because they thought you could act. Maybe they thought you might have range, diversity, wider interest. Maybe they thought you might like to not have to lose or gain 60 pounds for a role, or glower, kill, or sulk. Maybe they thought you might like to see just how charming you can be.

Which he might find is harder than he thought.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Phaidon Press

Dear Phaidon Press:

I know that in your manuscript submission "tips" you asked that we not contact you for an update on the status of our submission until you have had our submission for three months. But it has been 11 days now without hearing from you, and I am aging at a rate 14 times that of a normal human. The stress has caused my toenails to start coming loose. Despite your request I must beg of you; please give me a hint. Eleven times fourteen is easily three months if you'd briefly indulge me on this method of calculation. Just let me know a little of what you're thinking at this point and I'll go lay down for a bit. Thank you.

Oh, one small other thing. In reading through your tips just now I realize I hadn't noticed that you said "Phaidon does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited submissions, or any materials included with a submission." Had I seen that I would not have included my lucky rock with my manuscript submission. It might be best if you just popped my lucky rock back to me where I can keep an eye on it. It would be devastating if anything happened to it.

I'm really looking forward to working with you though, and other than these two small points I think everything is going great between us!

With no small amount of regard,

F. Calypso
(Phaidon Press Author (prospective!))

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Library cart

Oh man, working a job in common with others can be a tough haul. I am part of an unwieldy mob of people who staff a large, near urban library (as you probably already know, but think of the one stray person on the Internet who has wandered newly upon this blog and, bewildered, simply needs... nope, they're gone. We lost 'em). Anyway, individual work is largely added up to make a whole. Like many jobs we here are like a team of oxen pulling a cart. Look at that team of oxen pulling that heavy cart on a rough road. You tell me who's doing the heavy pulling. You like that one who really looks like it's straining and giving its all? Or maybe you like that one with the glossy coat who seems to be staying cleanly in its reigns? Who knows? Speaking as an oxen the only guarantee I can offer is that you'll probably pick the wrong one. And that everyone has lots of opinions about everyone else. And that who's pulling a lot and who's hardly pulling at all can change on a dime! Actually that's a whole lot of guarantees here. But I have one more guarantee that's a bigger guarantee than all the rest:

Each of the oxen thinks they're doing a pretty damn good job. 

Yes, even those two wandering lost in a nearby field.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

More disdain for the non readers among you

Dear Lapsed Subscriber:

Remember when you used to read clerkmanifesto? Each day, or maybe every few days, with them gathered in a little group, you would carefully work your way through one of my sweet and salty missives. Then, done, you would go on with your day, ever so slightly altered. Do you remember that?

"Hey," you reply. "But I'm right here, now, reading through your post as we speak."

Ah yes, I know. I see that. I was just writing to the lapsed subscribers.

"Well, if they're lapsed, how would they see what you have to say to them?"

Oh, I wasn't really hoping to reach them. I was just thinking I could make them look bad.

"I see now. But of course nothing could bring more shame onto them than they have already piled upon themselves!"

Thank you!

With no regards whatsoever (to the lapsed subscribers),

F. Calypso

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Customer feedback

It is time for our annual customer feedback review. If you would be so kind as to fill out this year's Customer Feedback Survey Form we can immediately begin to make the changes to this blog that you have been longing for. Unless you think this blog is already perfect, in which case we won't have to do anything. Which would be nice, because we're really very, very tired.

So tired...

Deeply tired...

Anyway, please do fill out our form:

Clerkmanifesto Customer Feedback Survey, 2018

My number one concern with clerkmanifesto is

A. None. I think it's perfect! Or like, perfect 30 percent of the time.
B. I'm concerned with how tired you are.
C. Ho boy, concern. Plenty of concerns! Pull up a chair. But I mean it in a good way.
D. There must be some mistake. I'm supposed to be here doing the Taco Bell Customer Survey.
E. The narrow and highly particular range of options on your multiple choice surveys.

I read clerkmanifesto

A. Yes.
B. Er, will I still receive a coupon for one of Taco Bell's delicious chimichilangalaquas?
D. Answer "C" is making me uncomfortable.
E. Sorry I'm late. Has the survey started yet?

My favorite part of clerkmanifesto is

A. When you pretend you're joking.
B. "Favorite" is a very strong word in this context.
C. Its profound obscurity.
D. Is this clerkmanifesto? It's kind of cute. Where are the pictures?
E. I'd really rather not be pinned down to a single letter choice answer. Oh, foiled again!

My least favorite part of clerkmanifesto is

A.When the hilarity dies down and I am left sadly and wistfully looking at my computer wondering painfully what it's all about.
B. The free kittens. But not so much the crippled ones. I know that doesn't speak well of me but I must answer honestly.
C. When it awkwardly inserts mentions of its corporate sponsor Taco Bell.
D. When it starts going on about how great it is, even if it totally is great, maybe the most amazing thing ever written for the Internet, a work of towering genius and a shining light in a dark world. It is a masterpiece of beauty, vision, and wisdom, and a gift, truly a gift to humanity like no other. I am ever humbled and inspired by it.
E. Yeah. Same as "D" for me. Or maybe "A", although I thought about "B" too for awhile. What was "E" again?

In conclusion I just really want you to know that

A. A customer feedback survey that is functionally impossible to fill out or submit is hardly likely to be a great font of improvement for your little blog.
B. You are undercharging for clerkmanifesto the blog, but overcharging for your wonderful (but expensive) Clerkmanifesto Tea Cosy.
C. Answer "A" is not a nice person, in case you wondered.
D. Your failure to institute any of my suggestions from your last eleven customer feedback surveys only makes me more optimistic that this one is finally gonna be it!
E. All my favorite answers were "E" up until the last one when, oh, curses! Foiled again!

Monday, January 15, 2018

$25 Metropolitan Museum of Art

My dear Met President and CEO Daniel Weiss:

First of all, until all this controversy arose about the new entrance fee to The Met, I had no idea you weren't simply a President, but are also a CEO. Good for you. Nothing nowadays says "The screams of the little people won't distract me from doing the proper thing" like the title "CEO". You have surely shown your mettle in this regard already. I hope they give you a couple Rembrandts along with a noble title like that.

Since your announcement of the new entrance fee you have no doubt had to endure a good deal of complaining and criticism. Perhaps you are afraid this will be just one more letter berating you for your decision. Well, yes and no. I certainly am not mad at you for introducing a $25 entrance fee for the out-of-towners. This has been a long time coming in my opinion. No, rather my complaint, Sir, is that you have set this levy far too low. Can I just say here that your lovely museum has been too crowded with smelly poor people and foreigners for many years now. Their uneducated gawking at our finest works of art is distracting at best, unhygienic and wasteful at worst. I feel setting a much higher barrier than you have recently instituted would demand the kind of commitment and sacrifice from the masses suitable to your august institution. A far more demanding fee would surely weed out the all too many who don't really belong there and likely don't feel comfortable there anyway. 

But I am not the rabble to yammer at you to get my way. I have a proposal for you. I have means but no wish to see my name scrawled uncouthly upon your fountains and doorways. I prefer to build a more suitable world. And so I offer you a gift of two million dollars for every dollar you raise your entrance fee. Raise it to $30 and you will see a small but useful gift from me and a trifling improvement in your clientele. Raise it to $200 and you shall be a richly endowed paradise for art lovers of true refinement and taste. Let the filthy Museum of Modern Art charge mere pocket change for entrance, the Met deserves a serious crowd of refined people like yourself and I.

With deep regards from one CEO to another,


F. Calypso
Founder and CEO of Clerkmanifesto

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Wayne Gretzky's quote

I saw a quote the other day by Wayne Gretzky:

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

I have two things to say about this quote:

1. Anyone so outlandishly talented at what they do as Wayne Gretzky is hardly helpful on this score. Yes, if you are Wayne Gretzky you do indeed miss 100% of the shots you don't take, and you make a notable number of the shots you do take. However if you are not Wayne Gretzky, yes, you still miss 100% of the shots you don't take, but, if you make few enough of the shots you do take everyone will stop passing to you. And they'll hate you. And your team will lose.

2. There is no way in the World that Wayne Gretzky is the originator of this quote. It was likely first said by an early bow and arrow hunter to a kid somewhere in Africa 65,000 years ago. Then it was said a million more times until it got officially ascribed to Wayne Gretzky, an enormously prolific goal scorer who, it turns out, also got a lot of assists.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Great quotes continued

Today in Great Quotes Continued we present Tolstoy's famous opening from Anna Karenina, with the crucial new added bit at the end:

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. But many families just mildly suck in an vaguely familiar way.

Thanks for coming. We'll see you next week on...

 Great Quotes Continued

Friday, January 12, 2018


Dear Publisher:

Regretfully I must withdraw my manuscript from your consideration.

Two days ago I submitted Clerkmanifesto: The River Notes to you in hopes that you would publish it. Then I sat down and waited for your response. Unfortunately I soon found I couldn't take it. The suspense was killing me.

Killing me.

Also I realized that while I thought I was psychologically equipped to handle another rejection, I'm really not. My submission was clearly an act of emotional hubris vastly beyond my current level of human development.

Please return my materials at your earliest convenience. I apologize for any bother I have caused your esteemed publishing house and hope perhaps we can work together some time in the very distant future.


Feldenstein Calypso

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The bell

I'm afraid I can be rather critical of my managers here in this space. I'll admit none of it is helped much by my issues with authority. I have issues with authority. Also I feel power is corrupting, even in trifling amounts. And it causes instantaneous power specific brain damage. And did I mention my authority issues?

Well I can mention them twice because I'M IN CHARGE HERE!

The truth is though that both of my managers, as much as they can sometimes upset me, are basically nice people. And I really do think with one, simple, quite small correction I could have a vastly easier time with them.

All I ask is that at all times they wear a little bell around their necks, a nice, distinguished, noisy little bell.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Performance review


Annual Performance Review

Department: Library

Position: Library Clerk III

Years of Service: 24

This employee's performance has been stellar, and he is a wonderful asset to our library.

He is punctual, well-groomed, and conscientious. He performs his duties efficiently and positively and is always willing to step up when things get hectic around here, as they so often do. He is knowledgeable about library policy and yet creatively and effectively solves problems that fall outside the purview of our policy. He is attentive to our patrons and works well with his co-workers. He is a hard worker with excellent attention to detail. He is an employee here who I can fully count on to get the job done. I have nothing but positive things to say about this dedicated library employee.

However I do have one small request I would like to make of him in this space. When signing the condolence and farewell cards left in the employee break room, I would like him to please stop using the phrase "Good riddance to bad rubbish".

That said we look forward to another year with this fine library employee!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Working like athletes

I'm a clerk, a library clerk, and mostly I quite like the work, especially those parts that involve customer service, but I do wish my job were more like being a professional soccer player.

I wish that I had only one or two really important sessions of work per week. They would be an intense hour and a half session, with a 15 to 20 minute break in the middle. I would have to focus and concentrate intensely during this time. Every interaction would be considered crucial. It might be televised. I might get subbed out if I'm clerking badly, or on the other hand I might get subbed out if I'm clerking well but am exhausted from a huge amount of patron interaction.

But this wouldn't mean I would only be working one to three hours a week. There would be all the preparing for those sessions of work. There would be coming in to practice for them a couple of days every week, maybe doing some casual shelving sprints, reading, or low key front desk assistance. There would be the hanging out before and after, talking about work and work situations with my co-workers and manager, building camaraderie and game plans.

If this soccer approach were true, then the sprawling, unfocused, nearly meaningless workload of my job wouldn't be the measure of me, rather I would be defined by these highly scrutinized intense passages of perfected library work, by my mastery. Preparation would show on my ultimate performance, and so would the depth of my knowledge, my concentration and my focus. If I performed badly I might not get starting time on the front desk, but if I perform well other libraries might try to buy me at a huge bonus. It would always be clear who is good at the job and just how good they are, sometimes painfully clear.

Of course my job is not like this. But I like to pretend it is sometimes, just to myself, to keep going.

Monday, January 8, 2018

I hate billionaires

Yesterday I made the mildly complicated joke that the amount paid for a single soccer player in Europe was outrageous because the same amount of money could have been used to buy a Rothko painting. But today they are installing an art exhibit of work by students at my library. These are by first graders up through high school students and look to be mostly drawings in colored pencil. It's a nice show. What they've done is taken drawings by the little kids and had the teens do their own more sophisticated version of that same drawing. Then the two are hung next to each other.

They haven't quite finished putting everything up but it looks to be maybe a hundred pieces of art. And of course that's the real travesty of paying a hundred and eighty million dollars for a soccer player or a single piece of art: With that much money we could afford to buy the ten best of these drawings. I think the artists would have a hard time refusing our offer when we're talking 18 million dollars a shot. Of course, then we'd have to figure out how to afford framing them. That's gonna be extra.

I know the real thing with money like this, spent with such seeming frivolity, is that we could feed the hungry with it.

I suggest nice french cheeses.

Someone gave me a book he wrote the other day. In the introduction he was giving a rundown of all the crazy ideological elements in some great political battle, finishing with "the left-wing "I hate billionaires" wackos". I read this description and turned to him and said "Hey, that's me! I'm a left-wing "I hate billionaires" wacko!"

I have since donated the book to our friends of the library bookstore, where you can purchase it for a dollar.

And so that is the ultimate theme of these two blog posts about buying a soccer player for 180 million dollars: go ahead and buy stuff, even if it's ridiculously expensive, even if it's a soccer player or a Rothko. The real economic problem in the world now are people who have too much money to buy anything else, what with there being nothing left they could remotely want, and so they just sit there on their pile of riches, snarling, and trying at any cost to figure out ways to get more.