Sunday, June 30, 2019


At sunset everything turns pink; the city, the string of clouds running unevenly over the horizon, and the river itself. The brown Mississippi is lurid pink, trees, the city of skyscrapers is shimmering pink, sky, the clouds are just... pink. I lean up against my windows. A giant mote of cottonwood fluff floats right, then it floats left, then it drops straight down.

It's all too pretty. 

It may be a trick.

"Just try and distrust miracles." It challenges.

And then night comes before I can manage it.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

How to measure your hydration levels

I'm not usually a fan of the soccer announcers. Mostly I get English people who pretend to be calm and neutral but aren't really, deep down. And it's not that deep down either once they wake from their talking slumber. The Women's World Cup has been a mixed bag, and the in-crowd fandom of the American commentators gets to me a little, but once I set aside the "rah-rah our team" stuff, and see it through the lens of "I'm just so excited about all these players and how women's soccer is a big deal right now" it takes on a kind of disarming charm. It can be blunt and unabashed. My favorite moment came in the first half of the France vs. America game.

During a lull in the action talk turned to the heatwave in France. It's in the 90's while they're playing which can pose problems. The main narrators of the game briefly took the discussion to some specialty analyst to discuss the U.S. team preparations for these challenging conditions. The analyst said their preparations have been very thorough and complete. They've even been scientifically measuring the players hydration levels on a daily basis.

Then they went back up to the booth where the play by play announcer was dutifully impressed, and said so. But the commentator said

"She just means that they check the color of their pee. She was just being fancy."

Friday, June 28, 2019

Democratic debate

I watched the Democratic debates. And because the odds are that you didn't, a choice I can't much fault, I am here to tell you who won!

This is super important in Presidential Debates because most people, including me, usually catch only a bit of the debate, or none of it at all, but might hear a snatch of news. So they, or we, mostly walk away with some kind of media consensus winner. One might even say that for the vast majority of us the whole candidate of our choice is not put together from long, disciplined study, but rather from little bits of cobbled together scraps. Too often it's made out of the scraps of other people's opinions.

But not so at least with these debates. I have the authoritative winner for you right here. I watched them for us all. This is the objective stuff, the real deal.

The winner was:

Whoever you wanted it to be.

I'll back you up on that. Unless it's Biden. Fuck Biden.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

For birds, crickets and most of all, golfers

I know, dear readers, that while I have been home in my convalescence I have written a lot of posts about soccer. A lot of soccer.

Can I see a show of hands as to how many of you are soccer fans?


Oh. That's like 40 percent of my readership! I was thinking it would be so much less. In fact I predicated this whole post on no one even bothering to raise their hand, at which point I would say:

Don't worry! Today's post will not be about soccer!

It's about golf.

How many among you are golfers or golf fans? Don't be afraid to let yourself be known. I'm super welcoming here.

I just hear crickets.

This is amazing. I am delighted that members of the insect class have taken an interest in clerkmanifesto. It is an especially delightful surprise considering that I primarily write... for the birds.

Actually, what's even more surprising is that all these crickets reading my blog like golf.

Cool. Cute. Can't you just picture them with their little clubs?

One reason that we have nothing to say regarding soccer is that there were no games today. So instead I tended to health stuff, found a fairly wonderful youtube channel (believe me, not an easy thing to do) called Philosophy Tube, and looked out the window.

Out the window sometimes there is golf. 

I see the green. And I see the golfers try to sink their ten foot plus putts. No one ever makes them. This season I have seen a few hundred of these putts. Zero people have made them. Not only do I find this astonishing, but it also seemed like at some point it might be a useful thing to tell you about it here. So when people lined up their putt I'd get a little nervous. What if someone makes it and this amazing fact has to be qualified?

But no one has. And here I am.

They line up their shot. They take a couple of practice swings. They go for it. It falls short. It rolls past. It curls right. It cuts left. 

They look a little sad, these golfers, a little disappointed. I can't see much detail from where I am, but they look like they feel they should have made it.

It looks like they should have made it.

But out of hundreds of golfers I have seen, in a random sampling, not a single golfer was any better than them.

I wish they knew that.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

More beautiful game

Home tending to my mysterious ailment which I wish I'd stop mentioning, I am watching plenty of Women's World Cup soccer. So that's what you''ll hear about, not my mysterious ailment, which keeps coming up, even though this is all about soccer, and not about my embarrassing ailment which please god we are finished covering on the blog and will all be super cured any second now.

The morning game brought us China v Italy, and if I was inclined to toss it off as a team that over achieved to the top of their group (Italy) versus an able but mediocre team slated for destruction (China), the afternoon game of Netherlands vs. Japan has really brought this home. I was happy to see Italy go so surprisingly far this tournament, but Japan and Netherlands are really good teams, and I have quite warmed up to the skill level of this tournament. 

I am all in on this Netherlands team, which sadly may sign their death warrant, going by my luck. I have only seen the first half so far and it's anyone's game. One thing that makes me fond of the Netherlands is certainly their fans. They are heavily represented here, wear a ton of their team's signature color (orange), and seem to bring horns to their games where they play songs in the audience. I was sad that one of their ferocious wingers, who wore her hair as leopard spots on her head, reverted to a platinum blonde crew cut, but I'm willing to accept that that's none of my business. Lieke Martens, the best player for Netherlands, managed the kind of brilliant goal one has to figure is mostly luck, but also leaves one curiously wondering. The ball came from a corner to her feet and she one touch redirected it thorough the legs of the Japanese defender into the bottom right corner of the net. One nothing Netherlands.

But Japan has rather won me over too, to my surprise. After a lackluster group stage they play cohesively, technically, and with wonderful passing. At the end of the first half they produced possibly my favorite goal of the tournament to tie it up. It started with a nice pedestrian pass in to the middle. At the top of the box a player passed with one touch in tight company to their teammate, who brilliantly let it pass between her legs, spun round, and sort of double touched it through the middle to the charging Hasegawa who just sliced it over a sprawling keeper for the goal. Beautifully done!

So I'm looking forward to the second half. 

Too bad someone has to win.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Yoo ess ey

Today I was home sick, with an ailment that I.. don't... really... want... to.... discuss. So I watched the day's Women's World Cup Round of 16 matches. If you are thinking I faked sick to watch these games, well, I can see how you would, but there is a lot of soccer in this world, and The Women's World Cup Round of 16 is not going to be a "fake sick" level event. I am actually legitimately at home and fairly uncomfortable, but it's a little embarrassing to discuss with exactly what, so can we please move on already?

Let's talk about Spain vs. The U.S.A.

I was rooting for the wild underdogs that were Spain. They lost even though they had the only thing I'm willing to consider a real goal in the game; a beautifully composed shot lofted patiently over the keeper by the occasionally quite excellent Jenny Hermoso. The U.S. scored their two goals off of penalties, the second of which was rather dodgy even if not outright unfair, which sums up soccer about 80 percent of the time. 

Here, that's important:

Soccer is a beautiful game of skill that's strangely dodgy about 80 percent of the time.

But instead of merely seeing a team I was rooting for fall to defeat, I brought myself back from despair and from my default total fatalism on the strength of my will and the following points:

Spain played close to level with a team wildly outclassing them and can certainly hold their heads high.


Players aside, the American fans deserved it. That's right, the American fans deserved this!

"What!" You cry. "The Americans are the neighborhood bullies, fat with their success, violence, and hegemony. How can they deserve anything!"

Despite being sympathetic to this point of view I'd like to point out that this is the still mildly obscure and developing sport of Women's Soccer. It's progressive. It speaks to equal rights and girl power. One of the U.S. players, the talented Megan Rapinoe, was the first white athlete to take a knee. This is a positive and growing sport. And yet as I watched game after game of these early matches, of this essential, rare, epic tournament, I was horrified to see largely empty stadiums. Sure, the French games had good crowds as this world cup takes place across France and France are among the favorites. And one can't expect Nigeria or Thailand to put a ton of fans in the seats of their games. But Spain? Spain is right next door to France. Spain is merely a long, pleasant drive up the European Highway to see their wonderfully improving team, in their nation's far and away favorite sport, in the World Cup.

But who was in that Spain v. USA audience? 

It was packed with Americans, all of them flown on miserable, shitty airlines and paying all kinds of exorbitant, hyper in season prices. That stadium was full of dedicated American fans, fans who had made an effort. Fans who had suffered for it. Maybe they deserved a victory.

And maybe the tenacious, slightly violent Spanish team could have pulled that upset off, if only they had the cheers of their hopeful countrymen urging them on, instead of merely the mighty, disheartening chants of "U.S.A.!" thundering in their ears.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Lessons of the Women's World Cup in the wake of Australia

Why am I watching so much of The Women's World Cup? It's a multiple choice question!

A. Because it's the beautiful game!

B. Because I am running an office pool and have to be able to discuss it all thoroughly and intelligibly with my co-workers even if they remain largely uninterested and vaguely ignorant of the whole thing.

C. Someone has to watch The World Cup or they might just give up and stop covering it on my computer.

D. I won't let the h8ers win! Suck it h8ers!

E. The more my heart breaks the stronger it becomes (RIP Australia).

And what have I learned this World Cup. This is also multiple choice!

A. It's only the beautiful game until I become invested in who wins. 

B. I'm the only one who cares so it's only right that the teams I want to win should win!

C. The more I want a team to win the worse the officiating becomes.

D. The Zen soccer phrases "All to play for" and "It wasn't meant to be" might as well mean the same thing.

E. I just keep learning the same things over and over.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Why I should be published

Dear Publisher:

I have prepared a list for you of reasons why you should publish my book. You could read my manuscript and decide for yourself, but that seemed so cumbersome and unlikely, whereas I think you'll find this list super convincing and readable.

Why You Should Publish My Book

1. We share the same birthday! (Only applies to Publishers born in October. Contact me for more specific details).

2. Free gift for the first ten publishers!

3. Not publishing my book is kind of the obvious move at this point.

4. The cost of paper and binding has come down significantly since the 1400's.

5. Publishing isn't just about selling books!

Oh. It is? Sorry, never mind.

My bad.

6. It's our best chance at stopping Trump! (I know that sounds crazy, but Joe Biden seems to be running a whole successful campaign on it!)

7. I'm a pretty good writer, though, admittedly, I'm no Warwick Deeping, placing myself more at the level of Charles "Chic" Sale.

8. I work at a library and could probably talk them into buying a few copies of my book. Though it would be better if I didn't have to since it all seems so... awkward.

9. I take it back. I can totally write as well as Warwick Deeping! I was just being self effacing!

10. What are you going to do, publish someone else's book? Good luck with that!

For the next ten reasons send $9.95 and a book of first class stamps to:

Feldenstein Calypso
The Library
Twin Cities, MN  55555

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Why I'm so popular around here

One of my co-workers was telling me the status of her preparations for her upcoming trip to France. There were some pending issues about car rental and/or getting a train out to Normandy and to their base of operations there in the gorgeous city of Bayeux.

This concerned me greatly. "Oh," I said. "You really want to make sure everything goes well in Bayeux. It's too important to mess up in any way."

My co-worker wasn't too worried about it. She felt it would work out. But I was still seriously concerned. 

"No, really." I emphasized. "I mean it. You don't want to have saved your nickels and dimes, worked here til the sun didn't shine, only to come back someday, come what may, from your one and only trip ever to Normandy saying ' I...  blew Bayeux."

I'll be here all decade.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Flattering letter to a literary agent

Dear Literary Agent:

I read somewhere, maybe it was in Writer's Digest, or Publisher's Weekly, or The 2019 Writer's Guide to Publishers, or possibly even in some mercenary little fake blog post somewhere, that the big publishers, of which, tragically, there are only five now, won't even deign to look at anyone's submission for publication unless it's being sent in by a bona fide literary agent!

I am only willing to publish with the Big Five because I believe they are the only people powerful enough to bully the masses into reading my prose.

The literary distance between me and Mark Twain is mainly in marketing at this point. A little bit in sheer talent, sure, but mainly in marketing.

What does this mean?

It means that I have been wasting my time sucking up to Random House when all along I should have been sucking up to you!

It suddenly occurs to me that from your perspective this might not sound great.

Nevertheless I feel a person of your perspicacity, and one wearing such a dazzling cravat, can surely rise above it and represent me. A genius like yourself will undoubtedly make a success of it!

I look forward to receiving one of your unearthily beautiful contracts soon in the mail.

With almost fawning regard,

F. Calypso

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The best of 1900

Dear Publisher,

Please consider the following 1,900 essays for publication. Yes I know you cannot publish 1,900 essays. Even if they're short it would still take 1,900 pages easy, and that is too long for a book.

So here's what you do:

Read the first essay. If it's not to your taste just skip right on ahead to essay number two! Keep track as you go! By this method progress along the 1,900, skipping anything that doesn't quite suit you.

Ha! Well done! Congratulations on going through all 1,900 of my essays! It only took you, let's see, 18 minutes. Publish whatever that was that you actually read and we'll have pure gold!

You might want to use a largish font.

My agent will contact you, just as soon as I can find one.

Yours truly,

F. Calypso

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Sam Kerr

We are holding a very fancy betting pool at my library to celebrate The Women's World Cup. Because $20 here bought a person a randomly selected team and an also random Golden Boot Player (that's the person who scores the most goals in the tournament), loyalties were widely distributed and the library fanbase was scattered across 24 teams.

That was until Australia's Sam Kerr was briefly interviewed following a dramatic come from behind victory against Brazil in game two. She said something to the effect of:

"We don't listen to the h8ers. Me an' the girls showed them and they can go suck on that one."

Perhaps curiously, we all became Sam Kerr fans.

Then, five days later, Sam Kerr scored four goals against Jamaica to propel Australia into the round of 16. At this point Sam Kerr hysteria seized the library staff. Yellow and green started showing up everywhere. People were drinking Fosters in the break room at all hours. Walking by any conversation between co-workers here, one could catch the tang of fake Australian accents, and it was a matter of course to hear the phrase "The h8ers can suck it."

Why Sam Kerr? What captured our imaginations?

We library employees are pretty civil people, not overly given to coarse language. And also we are in the USA where our team looks far more likely to triumph in this World Cup than a scrappy, mixed blessings Australian team with one great player instead of, let's see, seven, no, eight!

But here's the thing: These American women are great. They are admirable. They all seem like people who are going to do well in life. The look like they'd make good Vice Presidents, heads of marketing divisions, Directors of College Athletics Departments, big time Head Coaches. They seem like young, successful people, jocks, crisp and apple pie and strong and lean and off into the upper middle classes and beyond.

And good for them.

But Sam Kerr is easy to picture working at our library, angrily shelving away the afternoon, irritated beyond reason about misfiled items, muttering "h8ers!" to herself. One can naturally see her kicking our automated check in bins to get them working. It is no stretch to envision her here in our back room, grousing to her co-workers about some unpleasant patron, or the indignities of management, inappropriately uttering "they can suck it" as everyone awkwardly wanders away.

Media reviews are mixed at best about Sam Kerr's intemperate remarks. There were plenty of commentators ready to call her classless or claim she was distracting her team. But you gotta expect that kind of noise from the h8ers. We at the library take no particular stand on Sam's rustic expression. That's not the point. 

We simply recognize her somehow, for good or ill, as one of us.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Another point against

As a general rule at work, a baseline so to speak, I fool around. I consider it my main job. But I like to punctuate that fooling around with occasional bouts of hard work. It's just to keep a hand in, or for self respect, or out of necessity and commitment to the institution, or to avoid trouble, or to make the time pass, or even simply to flex my library worker muscles. But the thing that never fails to surprise me when I launch in on a bit of vigorous work is just how crappy and in messed up shape everything is around here.

What I want to know is:

What are all these people who appear to be working all the time actually doing?

Monday, June 17, 2019

The watcher in shelving

Not that anyone cares, but I'd just like to, for the record, set down exactly why, after taking a full cart of non-fiction books up to be shelved, and shelving up there for an hour, I came downstairs at the end of that hour with actually quite a lot of books on my cart. 

I doubt anyone was paying attention to me or my cart. My boss for the day is in one of his pathological moods and avoids even looking at me. My co-workers today are all particularly occupied with their own obsessive little worlds. But still I feel some intangible judgement, like some creeping, Sauron-like eye, and I am compelled to explain, perhaps to it, as amorphous as it may be.

So, please, let me explain then why there are still all these books on my cart:

There were a lot of shelving errors up there! 

It was a mess! Things were totally misfiled! Heaps of books were abandoned haphazardly throughout the 700's! I had to fix things!

Also, someone asked me a question! There was a loud noise I had to check out as a safety precaution! I found some garbage I had to throw away! I had to go to the bathroom! I'm allowed to go to the bathroom, aren't I?

And let me assure you, I barely read any books up there. Yes, I read hardly any books at all. And even then, it was just to make sure they were up to my library's high standards.

Also, I shelved all the books on this cart. 

These? You want to know about all these still on the cart?

These are just the one's I'll be checking out.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Coupe du Monde la Feminine

Due to a curious combination of fully supporting equal rights, running a women's world cup pool at work, and a fascination with Messi large enough to spill and swamp massive areas of world soccer, I have been following this 2019 World Cup avidly. And though we are still in the midst of the group stages I have watched many games and learned a lot so far. It's not all pretty. It's not necessarily what I would have expected. But it is what I have to share with you today.

1. The Women's World Cup is a bit static and second rate.

Whereas The Coupe du Monde la Feminine is one of the greatest sporting events in the world!

2. There is no women's Messi.

There could be. There will be. There are great, standout talents at this Coupe, but seven or eight of them are on a roughly similar level. This is how it should be and usually is. The likes of a Messi, a Gretsky, or a Steffi Graf, are once in a lifetime, or, er, three times in a lifetime, I guess?

3. Women's soccer is more physical than the men's.

A little less violent, yes,  but more physical, to the point where sometimes the players prefer to wrestle over the space in front of the ball without so much interest in the ball itself.

4. The Women's game is still developing.

You can tell the women's game is still developing by the way all the announcers keep talking about how great everyone is and how the game is all super developed and deeper than ever. And you can also tell by there being a 13 to 0 scoreline.

5. We are not sexist.

I am finding that among the many people I talk to, in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, at my library, and here on my blog, people are every bit as uninterested in women's soccer as they have been in men's.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Responding to t-shirts

They wanted to check out some books from me at the library. But they were wearing a t-shirt that said in big letters:

"You can do it!"

So I said "I am willing to accept your premise. But it begs the question: "Do I want to?"

Friday, June 14, 2019

All by halves

Theoretically speaking, when one places any food on the free food table of the break room at the library I work at, it lasts forever. It doesn't matter how popular it is. It doesn't matter how tasty it is. And it doesn't matter how hungry people are. It is, technically speaking, incapable of ever being finished.

That the food put on the free food table of the library break room is almost never tasty is beside the point. It may or may not be popular, but that's besides the point too. And as far as I can tell everyone around here is in a state of permanent ravenous hunger, but that makes no difference whatsoever in this issue as well.

How can I explain?

Let's say for the sake of argument some generous person brings in a dozen doughnuts from a mildly reputable local bakery. We'll say it's placed on the free food table at 10:00. So we'll start with:

10:00    Generous doughnut donator places an unmarked white box of doughnuts on the free food table while five or six staff members stand around at a discrete distance pretending not to be interested.

10:04    There are now, after a mere four minutes, seven doughnuts left. Your two favorite kinds of doughnuts will definitely be gone at this point. To an outside observer my claim that it is theoretically impossible to finish food on the free food table will look immediately shaky. 

11:53    There are still four doughnuts left, one of which actually looks pretty good.

12:39    Much to everyone's surprise there are still two doughnuts and seven sixteenths left. Clearly some wittler has gotten into the free food. They will be working their way through the third to last doughnut for hours.

3:41     Despite the initial flurry from the morning there is still three-fourths of a doughnut left, but it doesn't look too bad. Surely someone will want this nice three-fourths doughnut?

5:11    There is a quarter of a doughnut left. And so here is where we come, unavoidably, to the fundamental truth about the never disappearing free food; no one wants to take the last piece!

5:31    An eighth of a doughnut.

5:52    A sixteenth.

7:14    One thirty-second.

Now, if this were an actual scientific study we would somehow keep going by halves into our tiny infinity. This is why my point about the neverending food was in theory. What happens in reality is some vaguely responsible co-worker pops into the break room and skeptically opens the doughnut box. Self righteously outraged they exclaim to anyone in the vicinity that someone took the last doughnut and outrageously left the empty box. The responsible co-worker then throws away the box in disgust, little realizing there was a perfectly good one sixty-fourth of a doughnut in there. One sixty-fourth of a doughnut that could, piece by piece, have been eaten forever!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Murphy's law of pliers

I'm at work at the library, and there's this, well, rubber band, sort of, that's off track on our automated check in machine. I need a pliers to grab and fix it. So I go to the tool drawer to get the pliers. But for some reason the pliers have all turned into crescent wrenches. Our tool drawer now has dozens of crescent wrenches, of all kinds and sizes, sleeping peacefully within it.

So I go to the manager's office where he hordes useful things. I find a tool chest. Inside is a full set of wrenches and then a couple crescent wrenches for just in case. I try the kid's room. They don't even have a wrench. They've got nothing but caterpillars in there. These won't work for the purpose I have in mind.

I'm so frustrated that I grab a pair of scissors. Then I walk around with the scissors until it occurs to me that trying to fix this rubber band thing on moving machinery with a pair of scissors will end badly, probably with a lot of blood coming out of my hands. I put the scissors down where they were lost among the wrenches. They might have even turned into one.

Man, I wish I had a bolt to tighten or loosen around here.

Although, come to think of it, I think the last time I did I couldn't find a wrench anywhere.

I just used pliers.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Let me take a moment to convince you

I was recently reminiscing with a co-worker about a long departed library page who used to talk to people, and talk, and talk, and not get the signals, the many many signals, that the person being talked to needed, wanted, to go. No doubt the last time I talked to this person I just had to give up on any civil ending. So instead I slowly started walking backwards away from her, nodding and saying "Uh huh" until I was so far away from her that I could no longer hear her. Nine years later I am sure that she is continuing her discourse in my direction, unclear that I am too far away to know.

Pregnant in this reminiscing conversation with my affable co-worker was the fact that we both have this tendency to talk through the signals sometimes. We see the look in the person's eye, but we're going downhill and we just can't find the brakes so we hang on, hoping against hope to get our story out, or make our point, barreling down the mountain as fast as we can, desperately hoping to reach the bottom soon. 

Well, let me tell you, it's never quite as soon as one thinks. 

And let me add this for good measure: The older I get the more I recognize the futility of convincing anyone of anything.

And the more I am convinced of the futility of convincing anyone of anything the harder I want to try.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Talking to myself

At about 4:50 the black mood hits. It's a rough day at work, and four hours and ten minutes still lie ahead of me.

My night schedule is extremely unusual for me, and from five to seven I am shelving. I'm not sure if I've ever had two hours of shelving after five. I'm the only person shelving in the whole library tonight and, like I said, I'm in a bad mood. So I shelve slowly and deliberately, nevertheless picking out errors at an astonishing rate, like brambles from the fur of a golden retriever that's been running headlong through the brush.

I stop to start reading the novel I Am Legend about a man just barely surviving alone in a zombie apocalypse.

After a few minutes I say "This is not a good idea." And I reshelve the book.

Sometimes I think surely I have found the bottom of my mood, but there's always further down.

At least so far.

Earlier in the day I was at the front desk, helping an old woman track down a couple seasons of BBC TV shows, one of which existed and one that didn't.

"I'm always glad when you're here to help." She says. "You don't just tell me to go do it myself."

Me too, lady. Me too.

Monday, June 10, 2019

New tagline revamp

Up at the top of the blog, ↑ there, or, if you get this delivered to your email, here, it says "The Clerk Manifesto" in big letters, then, under it, there is a tagline. This is sort of a shorthand glimpse at the attitude of my blog. While my blog doesn't change too much, the tagline gets a little tired or worn out after awhile, or I think of a new one, so I change it. This happens every year or two. I don't really know how often though. I had to let go of my staff statistician.

Currently my tagline reads: I'm a glass half full kind of a guy even if it's actually empty.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Whoa, that's way too good to ever change!"

You weren't thinking that?

Well, we'll just have to agree to disagree on what you were thinking.

But lately I have had a few things come up that I thought I might like to change to. One of my new choices would read:

The Clerk Manifesto

Virtually every single person on the Internet is, by accident, not at this website. Except you!

But, having worked on those two sentences for six hours now I'm not sure I've got it right, somehow, quite.

I briefly toyed with:

The Clerk Manifesto

I'm funnier than you think I am

Which, in a break of confidence I changed to:

The Clerk Manifesto

I think I'm funnier than you think I am

Which came out sounding particularly dismal and was rapidly scrapped.

I've also recently favored:

The Clerk Manifesto

They really are out to get me, though, fortunately, they're not too serious about it.

But, in the end, for whatever reasons I haven't been able to make the change. What's the point really when, after all, my glass is still half full, no matter how much anyone drinks, or no matter how many times I knock it over.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

My millionth blog post

Some of the milestones I come to on this blog are too big to ignore. And so it is with today's one millionth blog post. That's a lot of blog posts, a lot of writing, and a lot of... thinking about things.

So naturally, on this auspicious occasion, you may be wondering: 

"What is the number one thing you have learned in all these years of writing essays for the Internet?"

It's a tough question, but I do have an answer:

I think I'm funnier than other people do.


Saturday, June 8, 2019


Look, I take library shelving pretty seriously. Usually I manage my time and shelve carefully and effectively. But sometimes I pop upstairs to the shelving right at the top of the hour, or my cart of shelving is super easy, or there are no mistakes for me to fix, and so sometimes I finish shelving a full cart of books with tons of time left in my hour of shelving.

Let me ask you: What am I supposed to do about that!

What am I supposed to do then

And what kind of absurd, stupid, short-sighted rule is it where we're only allowed to shelve one cart per hour? No wonder our shelving gets backed up so often! What is the point of a bunch of able bodied library workers lolling about downstairs chatting to while away their hour? Sure, let them loaf a bit, have a third coffee, whatever, but don't prohibit them from working! Don't limit the amount of shelving they're allowed to do in an hour! It's such bad management that it's crazy!

Wait, what's that?

You mean we don't have any rule against shelving more than one cart in an hour here?

You're sure?


I guess I'd better let everyone know. Maybe right after I do some... stuff.

Friday, June 7, 2019

My library and abortion

Libraries endeavor to hold themselves above politics. But such a thing can only go so far. Any political theorist can tell you that any act has a political element, and certainly a Socialist institution such as a library, thriving in a Late Stage Capitalist tempest, is bound to be full of politics whether it wants to be or not. One just has to read between the lines. Or maybe one just has to read. It's all easy enough. We're full of books here.

Today I was upstairs shelving in non fiction. I had a book about pregnancy to shelve. We have a whole huge section there full of pregnancy books. Interestingly enough we keep all our books on parenting in the Children's Room. What does this mean that we consider parenting books separate in this way from pregnancy books?

It means, of course, that my library is pro choice! Do you think they shelve stuff like this in Alabama?

Well, actually they probably do, because people in libraries tend to lean towards the light.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

New York Times fever dream

Perhaps now John Oliver said it best, though he was discussing compromises in vaccinations at the time. "The problem is that it’s the middle ground between sense and nonsense,” Oliver said. “It’s like saying, ‘It would be crazy to eat that entire bar of soap, so I’ll just eat half of it.'”

Here's how I imagine the tragedy unfolding:

Three Alt-Right friends with a history of far right Internet trolling shoot their way into The New York Times. One of the three is killed breaching security, but the others shoot people indiscriminately with military grade weapons before setting a bomb off that kills themselves and dozens of others. In total 93 people are tragically killed, and The New York Times, America's newspaper of record, is shut down for 32 hours.

The President of The United States tweets "Maybe if they didn't write fake news this terrible tragedy never would have happened! My prayers go out to the victims." Less than an hour later the tone changes slightly as he tweets "Our deepest condolences to the victims of this terrible, horrible event! Violence is not the answer!"

The New York Times reels in horror, grief, and chaos, missing a day's paper for the first time in 168 years. But the community and the nation's presses rally to help them. They publish their paper again after a brutally painful day and a half with the following headline:

Non Centrist Politics Spur Mass Shooting at New York Times 

Dead now number 93
Some Say President's Condolences Show Signs of Hope


Or maybe really it was Bernie Sanders who said it best, though he was talking about climate change. "...when the future of the Planet is at stake there is no middle ground."

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

An understanding of ignorance

I was out at the front desk of my library, chatting with my co-worker partner. This co-worker is an okay co-worker. In our discussion a truly terrible co-worker came up. My okay co-worker had no idea that this person under discussion was particularly bad at their job.

I was shocked. 

How on earth can someone, granted a co-worker who's merely okay, be in such a fog that they don't even notice the competency level of a person who takes 45 minutes to write a note saying that, well, saying nothing of any relevance to anyone ever, who can turn checking in a single book into a ten minute process?

I mused over this and found no answers.

Until the very next evening. 

I was out at the front desk with the exact truly terrible co-worker that we'd been discussing the day before. Traffic was picking up, and because I was engaged with a library patron my truly terrible co-worker was forced to help the next one, although she did give avoidance a good go by delaying them for a bit so she could finish slowly jotting down the time on a slip of paper for future reference.

Then things got really busy. I registered a couple people. I tracked down some vague memory of a book for a patron. I dashed out to help someone on a computer. I made some reading recommendations. I filled paper. I gave a faxing lesson to an uninterested party who really just wanted me to fax for them. And I went back to the machine to retrieve a box of Altoids someone accidentally returned with their books. When I returned to the desk with the Altoids and handed them over, my co-worker was busy with a patron. I did a double take.

She was helping the same exact patron she started with!

What could she possibly be doing with a patron for that long of a time!

And then, just before I started to look to find out, a strange feeling came over me.  

Picture this: You are driving down the street and, on the right, there are a series of ambulances and wrecked cars and police. You see blood scattered liberally, and, just as you start to follow with your eye the trail of gore to its horrifying source, you think "Maybe I don't want to see this."

That's how I felt.

And when I felt that I understood, a little, how maybe my okay co-worker could remain cocooned here in such ignorance.

Of course I looked at my truly terrible co-worker anyway. Ignorance isn't really my thing. I have no self-control in that regard. And there she was, registering a library card, a simple library card. She had been doing it now for 25 minutes.

Twenty-five minutes! 

It was horrible beyond belief, brains smeared everywhere.