Monday, September 30, 2019

Shana Tova

I recently commented on the retirement of one of my more challenging librarian colleagues. But one thing I neglected to mention was... she was Jewish. Like me. And not only that, she was the only other Jewish person left in my library system, and now I am alone.

I am the last Jew standing.

Today is the Jewish New Year. The year is 5780. I only, shockingly, found this out today. But don't worry. I'm all over it now. I am wishing "Happy New Year" like there is no tomorrow, which in this case, there isn't. I have a responsibility now. I am the last Jew. Actually what I say is "Shana tova." which means "A good year". It's an ice breaker because no one around here has any idea what I'm talking about when I speak Hebrew. This is because they are all goyim. "Goyim" means "Not Jewish" which may or may not be a derisive term depending on how you feel about people who are not Jewish. I'll let you mull that over and decide it on your own. 

But do keep in mind a day of reckoning is coming in a week or two.


Sunday, September 29, 2019

Radical leftist library

Well, my far left, radical socialist library is at it again. Surely you know that they use the garnished money of hard working Americans, compelled through property taxes, to fund a book-sharing system that probably violates copyright and almost certainly undercuts the profits and jobs of hard working publishing houses and movie studios. Just because someone buys a book somewhere doesn't mean anyone anywhere should be able to read it! It's the information a person is buying! It shouldn't be like, sell it once and then everyone can have it forever! How is that supposed to work?

Plus my library constantly encourages layabouts by providing shelter and entertainments. Maybe if we didn't have chairs and fancy things like that, these layabouts would go get some jobs and work for a living instead of enjoying cozy inside leisure all day on the county dime.

But, oh, it gets so much worse. Now we're indoctrinating people into the library's radical leftist political agenda. Just yesterday we had an Antifa event, right here in the library! Sponsored by the library! Now I'm not saying I support Fascists. I think there are a lot of problems with Fascists, but it goes a little far when the library not only takes a political stand like this, but hosts a radical anti-fascist, ANTIFA event. It was all featuring this radical man who not only advocated for, but actually dropped bombs on Fascists.

Let me repeat that: The library, my library, hosted an event lionizing a man who not just advocated for violence, but actually committed repeated violent ANTIFA attacks on a Right Wing group. He dropped bombs on them! Whatever your politics are, surely none of us want to countenance this terrifying radicalism!

Fortunately this was a movie and so none of us were in danger from this man. Apparently he even went to jail for his acts in Germany quite a while ago. A couple of years ago, after the movie was made by his niece, he died of old age, and I for one feel safer to be honest, not that I'm a Fascist or anything. But holding this guy up as some kind of hero seems particularly inappropriate for a neutral space such as a library, and the fact that his attacks happened some 75 years ago hardly makes them the sort of thing we should be excusing, let alone holding up as some kind of positive, especially in this divisive day and age.

Despite how all this may sound to you, you will find no bigger advocate for the traditional library than myself, as Ben Franklin envisioned them, with membership fees and for the main purpose of rigorous study and self-development. And I am also for the full discussion of ideas, but even if violent leftist radicalism is not beyond the pale, which perhaps it should be, the library should remain neutral in this discourse, letting ideas do the talking. It should above all refrain from taking a side, whether that be for or against a President, in favor of some ideology, or in picking a country to claim as wrong or right in The Second World War.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Angry good deeds of hatred

Lately, more and more often, when I am on the automated check in machine in the early evening I empty all the bins that go to other branches. This is something required of the last person on the machine for the evening, and it is generally considered to be an annoying task. This is not something the second to last person tends to do, a truth I well know from regularly being the last person on the machine for many, many years.

Do I do this out of the kindness of my heart?

Eh, maybe. But mostly I think of it as a quiet way to call all the people who never did it for me assholes.

Friday, September 27, 2019

A librarian departs

I have seen my share of thorn-in-the-side co-workers retired off. The one who is riding into the sunset this week has been a colleague of mine for every moment of my time here. She has been a low level burden on my workload all along, though the way that burden manifested has changed over the years, almost as if the being burdensome was the point, and whatever path there was to it merely a matter of circumstance. From the relentless family phone calls and urgent messages of the early years to the constant inability to do her job and the attendant requests for help of the later years, I have always been grudgingly helpful to her at best, and she has generally been thankful and apologetic towards me.

In these later years she has physically fallen apart. True to form this has created burdens on everyone around her. She has eschewed things that would allow her to do her job, like a wheelchair or adjusted hours, insisting on a strange, martyr-like pretense that everything is okay. Eventually some things have been forced on her, like the above mentioned adjusted hours (so she doesn't keep all her co-workers an extra 20 minutes after the close of the library), but some she resisted right up until, somehow, she was forced to retire.

I see her farewell card on the table of the staff breakroom. Retirements are unsettlingly often like funerals. And like at funerals people only want to bring out the positive memories.

I don't have any in particular.

And the notes of thanks I read on the card all seem strangely strained. The official intranet announcement of her retirement started:

"It is with mixed feelings I announce the retirement of..."

It was swiftly changed, but it says a lot.

Every time I look at her card all I can think to write is the wholly inappropriate:

"Thank you for letting us all help you so much all these years."

I still have yet to sign it.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

What we want others to think

I was helping a very frequent patron at the front desk of the library. She comes by roughly three times a week, and has done so for about 10 or 15 years. As I was getting a book for her a man I've never seen here before walked by and spotted her. "Oh my god, I didn't know you came here!" exclaimed the man I had never seen. He asked what she was up to (picking up a book on running), and if she was going to be at the thing on Thursday (yes, she was planning on it). Then he said (again) "I didn't know you came here. Are you at this library often?"

To which the woman, who, by any conservative estimate, I have seen at this library way over a thousand times, said "Only every very rare once in awhile. And you?" She asked.

To which the man I have never seen here before in my life replied "I'm here constantly." Then he added sadly "They're probably sick of me!"

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Killing creativity

I was puttering about on the Internet and I saw an article about how the desire to be popular on the Internet is killing people's creativity. I didn't read it. I'm on the Internet a fair bit, being something of an ad hoc Internet reporter, and I figured:

If I am seeing this article prominently featured on the Internet it is popular.
If it is on the Internet, popular, and an article, it was designed to be popular.
And, by the author's own title, as it was trying to be popular, it was a creativity killer.

I don't read the work of murderers!

You ask:

Do my attempts to be popular on the Internet inhibit my creativity?

No, my attempts to be creative seem to inhibit my popularity.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


I have had people bring me items at the front desk to check out for them under the guise of protecting my job. "I know I can use the self checkout," They say, "But I don't want you all to lose your jobs to a bunch of machines."

That's okay. I don't mind losing my job to a machine. I'm very self-entertaining. I just want the pay from the job. The job I can live without. 

Did you know that besides automating check out, and a great deal of check in for that matter as well, my paycheck is largely automated? What say we automate more, not less? More automated check in, more automated check out, and most of all a more automated paycheck. Hell, let's automate everything. We can hook our automated check out machines right up to our automated check in machines and just keep 'em going. The stats on that stuff ought to light up the County Commissioners. "Wow! This library is circulating millions of items every week! Fund the hell out of them!" 

It would all be so reliable we could go ahead and just automate the County Commissioners.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Out of the mouths of babes

Half an hour ago an eight year old boy walked into my library and loudly proclaimed "This is a library? It looks more like a mansion!"

Oh kid, you haven't been in very many mansions, have you?

Come to think of it, neither have I.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The unbearable sadness of the teen room

Out at the front desk of the library, at a slack moment, my group of tired library circulation workers hears a burst of laughter spill out of the teen room and roll across the library to us. We clerks all exchange surprised looks. One says "Laughter from the teen room? That doesn't sound right."

And another says "They're probably laughing at someone."

And all the weary library workers nod their heads sadly as it all falls into place.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Shelving advice

I may have touched on this a few times before, but that makes sense since I shelve books at least a few times a week.

It is:

If you're not correcting several errors in any session of shelving you're probably not doing it right.

Mistakes are inevitable, even for you or me, but if you never find any you're not paying enough attention to do anything well.

And if you don't fix the errors you do find, as you can, then your attention is meaningless.

This may also apply to life.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Form letter for form letter


A. Large corporation
B. Government entity
C. Institution of note

Thank you for your

A. Form letter response to my letter
B. Form letter response to my letter that was pretending not to be a form letter but wouldn't fool a child.
C. Form letter response to my letter that had two marginally personalized bits in it written by someone in a foreign country whose first language is not English, not even close.

I'm so glad you found my input valuable even though

A. I accused all your upper management of being criminals
B.  A human being never actually read any of my input
C. I don't think you understood I was joking.

I was so touched by your thoughtful response to my

A. Rambling eleven page letter
B. Caustic e-mail
C. Unstable invective scrawled in crayon

that I have

A. Immediately responded in kind.
B. Written you this genuine, not at all a form letter response.
C. Given up all faith in the world and have issued an auto-response... just like you!

And although when I wrote I was hoping that

A. I would receive a tearful, heartfelt letter from the CEO swearing before God to turn over a new leaf.
B. I would receive some not completely valueless coupons.
C. The very light of my righteousness would make me somehow magically feel better about things.

I do ultimately understand that

A. Capitalism eats everything and the teeth care the least.
B. You're making a dollar an hour in India, or a dollar a day in prison, and having to read my letter doesn't do much to make your day any better.
C. If I had to write you it was too late for your institution/business already.

So in conclusion let me simply say

A. I could be your friend if only you'd let me.
B. Blaise Pascal said "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when..." 
        1. it's often enough.
        2. it's good business.
        3. it's automated.
C. I'm so glad we had this lovely exchange of ideas.


A. Your friend,
B. One of your victims more or less trapped into doing business with you,
C. Your lifelong, sworn enemy,
D. All of the above,

F. Calypso

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Republicans I can only just begin to endure

On a glorious, late Summer day, making my way through the University campus, a man tried to sell me on Amy Klobuchar for President.

"I'm sorry." I said politely. "I don't support Republicans."

And suddenly it all fell into place for me.

"Democrats" has never worked for me. My whole life it has been held up as an ideal, as a promised land that bears no resemblance to anything that actually operates under it. The Democratic Party, as it has functioned for all of my life, actually best expresses...


Whether it be a moderate Republican like Sanders or Warren, concerned with balancing business interests with overall community welfare, a more fiscally conservative "business first" Republican like Amy Klobuchar, or an old school, keep-everything-the-same-no-matter-what, dyed-in-the-wool Republican like Joe Biden, everything I have known of the Democratic Party fits with perfect neatness in the ideals and image of the Republican Party. 

And so henceforth I will only call "Democrats" Republicans, as it should be and as it is.

What then shall I call what has been known as "Republicans"?

Oh please, it is such a lovely late Summer's day. Let us not speak such terrible names.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Ansu Fati for a short while

My head is full of fabulous accounts and all the deep issues of the day that you come here to read about. On any other day there would be

(some people say wisdom should be spoken softly, but I like to yell it in the hope that I'll hear it)

But instead, today, I just want to say "Ansu Fati" as often as possible.

Who is Ansu Fati?

I'm glad you've asked me about Ansu Fati.

Thank you for asking me about Ansu Fati.

Ansu Fati is a 16 year old soccer prodigy who was plucked from the obscurity of, I don't know, High School, I guess, his local swimming pool?, to play for Barcelona F.C., the best football club in the world this year (we're hoping).

Before one could blink, this lad, Ansu Fati, scored two glorious goals and a sublime assist and all of Spain whispered "Ansu Fati". They yelled it too. 

They were trying to be wise.

Sixteen years old and 318 days to score first team goals!

Just sixteen years 318 days old!

Why, that is younger than...

that's younger than Ansu Fati is now.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Murphy's Law of book series

I know I titled this "The Murphy's Law of book series", but more privately I consider it The Lockwood and Company Theorem.

Lockwood and Co. is a five book middle grade series by Jonathan Stroud and it is absolutely brilliant. It is a bit of Halloween come to life, but just this safe side of too scary for me, more the Disney's Haunted House kind of scary. Ghost scary, not bloody scary. The characters are appealing, real, Victorian fantasy perfection. The plot excellently assembled on both the short and long term. I've read it all twice and just bringing it up here makes me kind of want to go get these books for another round. Maybe I can bring a copy of the first book on my wife and I's upcoming Halloween trip to Italy.

But that's just an aside, and the Lockwood and Company books are just a good example of the first half of the theorem for me. The Lockwood and Company Theorem is this:

If you are at a library, or a book store I suppose, and you find a magnificently appealing book series you feel you might intensely enjoy, if you bring home only the first volume you will love it and bitterly rue that you did not bring home the rest, but if you bring home all the volumes you will not like it at all.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Animal visitation

Over the years we've had a lot of animals come through our library. Cats have wandered in more than once, birds by accident too, and a bat showed up in the elevator. A hamster was once dumped into the book drop long ago, and it was promptly adopted by us- so if you have any animals to get rid of, abandon them here at my library! A rabbit used to come by under the pretext of being read to. A pygmy horse came a couple of times to the kid's room for no reason anyone really understands, though it was interesting. Once I was at the front desk and a large parrot flew by. It was great. Apparently it was an escapee from the program room. Dogs, of course, are here all the time for various reasons. And just last week a little mouse made its way into our foyer where it dashed around a lot and then migrated overnight to the phone areas and disappeared for awhile. Mice are cuter in theory than as pestilence. Just in case you didn't know.

But today's animal was a new one for me.

I was out working the front desk of the library when a huge bug came through the security gates. Then it started walking into the library, with purpose, towards the kid's room. I went to look at it. It was a big cricket. I went to get a broom and one of our big book bins to sweep it into to take it back outside. Just as I was getting to work on it a nearby library patron, short, round, with goggly eyes and a strange look to him interrupted me.

"I can take him out." He said helpfully, sort of. "I'm don't mind touching him."

I shrugged assent. Who was I to refuse?

The guy got down to the ground and attempted to scoop up the cricket, but the cricket jumped. Then the man scrambled around on the ground for a couple of increasingly desperate minutes trying to capture him.

Finally he got him. He stood up with him in his hand.

"I can help you outside." I said gesturing to the front doors. But the man didn't seem at all interested.

"I don't mind touching bugs." He said, holding a cricket. "It doesn't bother me at all. I lived in the country for 11 years."

"Okay. Great. Thanks." I replied. Then I waited to see if he was going to go outside or anything.

Nope. We just stood there awkwardly.

So I left him to go put away the broom and box and return to the front desk. As far as I know he's still wandering around the library with that cricket in his hand, not minding it.

The cricket might, though.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

I hope it doesn't apply to this

I was reading an opinion piece in The New York Times maybe, or on the Guardian website. Well, maybe it was Salon or The Atlantic or CNN or NPR, I'm not entirely sure because everything is everywhere.

No, wait, not everything, but the 25 stations of the Internet are everywhere, winding back and forth, in and out of each other.

But anyway, it was a pretty interesting piece. It was a really good idea. And I thought "Maybe I should have this idea too."

But then I remembered sadly:

If I'm seeing it, it can't be very good.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

How to see more birds

Today I have some helpful advice for birders. So gather round, birders. After all, isn't everyone a birder? Who sees movement out of the corner of their eyes and doesn't look up? Who spots a bird flying, nakedly elegant in the sky, free on the wind and yet looks away in disgust? Who glances up at a tree to spy a hawk or an owl looming there, rippling with presence, and turns from it saying "booooring!"

No one, that's who. And if you have evidence to the contrary please just keep it to yourself. I don't want to know.

So since everyone wants to see birds I thought you might like a tip I discovered on how to see them at will.

I discovered this by accident. I guess I'm just lucky.

I was walking over the river and I was thinking about work and how they closed the parking lot without, well, I won't go into it, but I was getting really angry. I started imagining berating the County Manager in a series of angry anonymous emails when, all of the sudden there were geese.


They were flying down the river, in a beautiful formation. There were 14 of them. Each one of them was exactly the same distance from each of their neighbors.

"Aaaaaah." I thought.

I watched them fly off into the distance.

I walked on, my heart calm.

But before long I was thinking about the state of the Nation. And I was just so mad at how we are dealing with this time of crisis and with all the reactionary fascist backsliding. I was mad about a number of things. And I was thinking if I were talking to Joseph Biden I would tell him that...

When an eagle, a bald eagle with an oddly brilliant white head came swooping over me. He wheeled up wildly into the sky, nearly losing his balance, then sailed out to the river. I strained to see every moment of his astonishing visitation.

I realized I wasn't breathing. I breathed. Something sparkled. I heard a call from a thousand years in the past.

I walked on.

And eventually I started thinking about how this all might somehow make a really good blog post if I could find a way to put But then I thought it would hardly matter how good it was. The Internet is a terrible place and it will go out onto the wretched Internet to be wrongly accused, and even more be ignored and disdained. And the horrible thing about the Internet and really with all the ways that we as a people are...

But something was looking at me. I, fuming, had been staring almost blankly at the ground. Sensing the staring I looked up to find a turkey, iridescent bronze, regarding me quizzically. I regarded the turkey quizzically back. We stood there regarding each other quizzically until the turkey got tired of it. I didn't get tired of it. I was smiling. It was a wild turkey. Who wouldn't be honored to be looked at by a turkey?

No one. And if anyone would I don't want to know about them.

But what does all this mean?

What is the trick?

Oh, it's not fancy. I don't know why it works. But I find it strangely reliable. One merely needs to fume, in a quiet, solitary rage, and the birds will come. If you can but find it in yourself to become inordinately, self-righteously furious, birds, extraordinary birds, will visit you, and they will remind you of better things.

Friday, September 13, 2019

An inappropriate joke I can't remember already

Yes, this isn't that funny. And, as a person occasionally dealing with issues like what's featured below, I only wish it went as simply as this:

A woman calls me at the library.

"I have some books I need to renew." She tells me.

I get into her library card account with her card number. "What would you like to renew?" I ask.

"Dignifying Dementia, Inside Alzheimer's, and Memory's Last Breath."

"Hmm." I respond, my fingers dancing amongst my keyboard, "Unfortunately it looks like I can't renew these. They've already been renewed."

"Oh, when was that?" She asked.

"When you called five minutes ago."

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Best supporting actor

Yes, yes, art is subjective.

Until it isn't.

Is the Sistine Ceiling better than Caravaggio's Deposition? Not in a million years, I say. But we compare two masterpieces. There is a part of me that understands: who cares? The discussion is meaningless. One might as well throw in a Van Gogh, a choice John Singer Sargent, Picasso, why split these hairs? I'm wasting my time comparing the very stars in the sky.

But what if the devil doesn't want to let me go? 

Is Kansas a better band than the Kinks? Is The Wizard of Id a better cartoon strip than Doonesbury? Are there better singers than Lucinda Williams?

No. No no no! And now I'm all worked up.

Tonight my wife and I saw a movie. It was charming enough. I won't watch it again, probably, but I liked it. And in it Jack Black, an occasionally amusing actor I've never marked for his particularly brilliant abilities, played a teenage girl. It was stunning. A tour de force.

There was no reason he shouldn't have won the Academy Award for best supporting actor. But alas, what if you're the best (supporting) actor in a movie no one cares about? What if you give a masterful performance in a movie with no great ambition, or writing, or gravity? What if it's frothy, but your work is miles beyond everyone else that year?

I guess you go the way of other great robberies: Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck, Bogart in Casablanca, moments of lost recognition that cast a light that says it's all nonsense. Sometimes greatness can be picked out, sometimes it can't. And it is never compared among itselves to any profit.

The Tiffany Aching books will be slowly forgotten, though it may take time. Long Shot will win no awards this year. You will probably never hear of a book called Wicked Nix or the song Witness I Can't Hide. And if you ever find yourself on the blog "Clerk Manifesto" it will be the most freakish of miracles.

But I don't see it happening.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Nice Ride and the electric bikes

Dear Nice Ride,

As the bicycle ride share platform for my beloved Twin Cities I have been occasionally in contact with you over the years and have had many emotional responses to your journey as a young twin cities institution.

When you first introduced docking bike stations where a tiny fob can unlock a bike for an hour, my wife and I quickly became subscribers. I had only good things to say about you, your vision, your clever relationship to the twin cities, your reasonable annual prices, your good faith commitment to spread across the twin cities, and your non profit status. When I saw you at a street fair I had only fawning enthusiasm to express to you, and a small request for more stations along the river...

to which you were strangely defensive.

But it was okay. Maybe just your marketing wing was a little weird.

I wrote it off as nothing. We continued to subscribe. My wife and I rode your bikes. Most of them worked. We were fans.

But then very few new stations came as we waited hopefully.

Then you changed your annual fee structure to your advantage, not mine.

Then you sold out to some large, private, national company in what was surely a high level graft situation profiting the mayor and the city council and most of all, the upper management of nice ride.

Then you started making lots of promises that looked fishy.

Then you brought in a bunch of pointless, irritating "dockless" bikes that required phone activation to use and were immune to our magnificent key fobs.

Then you completely moved out of the city of St. Paul, vastly reducing your range and somehow managing to cast both yourself and St. Paul, in a dark light.

Before our eyes you had rusted and congealed.

And I was horrified.

I cursed your name.

I sowed salt on the fields of my former praise. I despaired. I gave in to hopelessness.

Must capitalism ruin everything? Does everything once good always grow worse and worse and worse?

I was sad.

Oh, we still rode your bikes. I think they cost a bit more. And they could go fewer places. But I was a bit heartbroken.

Until one day an email came. A hopeful email came.

Electric bikes are coming.


I was so excited. I could hardly breathe I was so excited.  I forgot all my suspicions and sour feeling towards you. My disappointments fled like leaves from the autumn trees, raining to the ground to be crunched joyfully under my feet!

I was really looking forward to it. You were aces in my book!

Then the electric bikes were delayed.

Then the electric bikes were recalled.

And I waited.

And waited and waited and waited and waited.

And then one day, when I was almost despairing yet again, they came!

I was so happy.

I tracked them on the map you provide.

But these electric bikes never came near me. Until, finally, one day, at a station towards the end of my ride, I found one!

It was broken.

But then another day, at the end of my ride, I found one and it wasn't broken. I rode it for a minute. It was fun.

So I hung in there.

Then a little while later I found one at the start of my ride! It was so exciting! I ran to it.

It was broken.

Then much later I found one that wasn't broken. I had to sprint to it and fight off a vacationing couple for it, then explain why the one they had wasn't working. 

But mine was. So I rode it!

I was on an electric bike!

It is a terrible bike. It looked like it had been beaten with a sledge hammer. It surged violently. The electric power cut in and out with a jolt and fluctuated madly. The whole experience was jarring, rough, and rodeo-like, to say the least.

Yet still, I loved it. I had lots of fun. I was assisted! I was powered! I was faster than normal!

I have yet to find another electric bike of yours that is both available and that isn't broken, but don't think my heart doesn't race with anticipation every time I go to get a bike with my little magic fob.

So I'm just saying,

Keep up the good work,

Your customer,

Feldenstein Calypso

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Another one, also not funny

So then I was leafing through the new copy of The New Yorker, not a magazine I particularly like, and lo and behold there was a hunter cartoon. It was much like the vision I related to you a day or two ago in that it involved a hunter showing off his wall mounted heads to a visitor. Mine ended with a tree branch, theirs with a human head. It was also similar in that theirs wasn't particularly funny, but perhaps that wasn't the point with either of them.

And then I got the idea for another one!

This one with bears.

The proud hunter is showing off his trophy heads, these, as I said, all of bears. They come to the first one. It's a bear. It's black. The hunter says "That's black bear."

The visitor nods.

Next there's a cute black and white head mounted beautifully to the right of the first. "That's Panda." The hunter says almost without shame.

Then it's on to a rather huge and fearsome white bear. "That's Polar Bear." The hunter says self satisfiedly. The visitor nods in appreciation. It looks ferocious.

Finally they come to a trophy bust so savage and torn up as to be unrecognizable. An eyeball dangles bloodily from its socket. Brains leak through a cracked skull, and muscle and sinew is visible through hideous slashes and tears in the poor animals face.

"Yes," the hunter intones gravely, "That's grizzly."

Monday, September 9, 2019

Runs on cash

One of my favorite things about my library is that all our printing, copiers, and used book sales are operated on an honor system. There is no money to insert to make things work. There is no one a person has to see about it to make it work. And we get to operate on a completely trust based system. I'm not saying it works perfectly. Not everyone is honorable. But by charging the library standard extreme capitalist mark-up (Library cost: two cents, Cost generally charged by libraries: 20 cents) we have a lot of wiggle room to make up for the ethically impaired.

Speaking of ethically impaired, what kind of library charges 20 cents for two cent copy?

All of them pretty much.

But at least at my library we give you the dignity of figuring you're good for it, whoever you are.

"Do you have a copy machine?"

"Yes, back there. Help yourself."

Looking searchingly for how it works the patron asks "Is it coin operated?"

Pointing to the nearby lockbox, "No, it's virtue operated."

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Hunter's den

Like Paul Mccartney waking up with the tune to "Yesterday" in his head, I awoke in the middle of the night with this scene in my head:

A mighty old hunter is showing a visitor his hunting trophies. They are arranged on the dark wood walls of his study, looming over the men as they walk around. A giraffe head sticks out of a great plaque, a tiger, a moose, some sort of strange ibex, and also, oddly, the branch from a large tree. A big branch, mounted on hunter's display plaque.

"What's that one?" The visitor asks, pointing at the tree branch.

"Took that one down in '94." The old hunter says wistfully, reliving past glories. "Huge thing, a hundred feet tall if it was an inch. I shot him with an elephant gun and barely slowed him at all. Thought I was a goner."

"What happened?" The visitor asked, fascinated.

"Took out my axe." The hunter said sadly. "It wasn't pretty."

Oddly enough I felt no compulsion to jot this down, and I fell peacefully asleep as soon as I thought it.

Saturday, September 7, 2019


Over the long Labor Day Weekend, for me a luxurious five days, my wife and I shopped and shopped and shopped. I cashed in my entire annual clothes budget in one wild mall-filled weekend and now have a new wardrobe. And it is not simply new in manufacture, but it is new in style, color, formality, and aesthetic.

In short I am resplendent.

At my first day back at work I am in gray slacks with a button down shirt of rich, wide, vertical stripes of gold, under a black dress vest. I am wearing my best French watch, bought in Paris, and the most elegant of my dollar store glasses.

This outfit has elicited much comment here at the library. There was the rather obvious "How did the job interview go?" (My reply: "I got it! I'm going to be a Library Clerk!"). I overheard that I look like I'm about to teach a class. And, in the one I found the most flattering, I was told I looked like Doc Holliday. The Western gunfighter archetype works just fine for me.

I haven't been to the front desk yet, but I do look forward to saying "I'm sorry, but I'm too beautiful to help you. Perhaps you'd like to ask one of my more disheveled co-workers." I have, fortunately, had the opportunity to approach a group or two of my gathered co-workers in the afternoon and exclaim "Oh, I didn't know that it was casual day today!"

No, no, of course. I should make sure it doesn't all go to my head. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll be just fine.

Now if you'll excuse me, I hear a mirror singing my name.

Friday, September 6, 2019

The end of the world as reported in the newspaper: Day seven

Here is my fever dream of the end of the world as it is reported in the newspaper. It doesn't matter much from which newspaper... In day one President Trump lashed out at New Zealand, feeling that the lack of cheese on his cheeseburger was attributable to them. The contretemps grew more heated on day two and warships were mysteriously sent to the Tasmanian Sea. In day three missiles rained down on Sidney, Australia seemingly as a warning, but were later claimed to have nothing to do with "Cheeseburgergate". In day four riots at the U.S. Embassy in Australia injured Americans, ramping up the tensions even more as world leaders called for all sides to stand down. On day five Trump stood strong, nations (and political parties) took sides, and Australia was obliterated in a nuclear holocaust. On day six the Democrats finally impeached and Trump replied by bombing Oakland and possibly Paris. 

Day Seven:


Trump Killed in Nuclear Attack on East Coast
Other Areas Also Affected


After a stirring but politically impotent impeachment of the President that the Republican Senate scoffed at, Trump's embattled Presidency came to an end yesterday afternoon as a series of either French, Chinese, Russian, American, or a chance combination of the above's nuclear bombs obliterated the state of Florida. Some of the President's family also died and as many as twenty million bystanders were killed as well in the incident which seems connected to the event now known colloquially as "The Apocalypse".

Below the fold story number one:

This beloved National Newspaper will cease publication due to nuclear missiles heading towards its general location. Concerns have also been raised about loss of advertising revenue and how the billions of dead across the planet will deeply depress its subscriber pool.

Below the fold story number two:

With Trump and many around him now dead due to the thermonuclear war, it is unclear who is currently the president of the United States. Betsy DeVos is currently assuming the role and was last heard from issuing an executive order that the public education system be dissolved in order to fund an emergency tax cut. However, she is now feared dead too.

Third page analysis:

With billions dead across the planet we look back with pride on the great achievements of the American people and those of people everywhere. While it is unclear who is responsible for this nuclear holocaust that appears to be about to take all our lives, we must say that both sides bear real responsibility for the acrimonious environment that has claimed, and is claiming so many lives. Perhaps if New Zealand had been more generous with the President's cheeseburger, or Trump less likely to take so much offense. Perhaps if the Australian people could have forgiven an uncertain mistake, or Democrats could have tempered their acrimony and not provoked Trump with a thrilling but ill-timed Impeachment, none of this needed to have happened. 

The sad thing is that we will never know.

Signing off for the last time,


Thursday, September 5, 2019

The end of the world as reported in the newspaper: Day six

Here is my fever dream of the end of the world as it is reported in the newspaper. It doesn't matter much from which newspaper... In day one President Trump lashed out at New Zealand, feeling that the lack of cheese on his cheeseburger was attributable to them. The contretemps grew more heated on day two and warships were mysteriously sent to the Tasmanian Sea. In day three missiles rained down on Sidney, Australia seemingly as a warning, but were later claimed to have nothing to do with "Cheeseburgergate". In day four riots at the U.S. Embassy in Australia injured Americans, ramping up the tensions even more as world leaders called for all sides to stand down. On day five Trump stood strong, nations (and political parties) took sides, and Australia was obliterated in a nuclear holocaust.

Day Six:


U. S. A. Bombed as Democrats Impeach Trump!


Trump claims "Attempted Coup" as he launches attack on "The traitor stronghold of Californation (sic, maybe?)" France also mysteriously attacked while England's Boris Johnson declares war on China "in support of our American allies". Trump thanks god there are still decent people out there in this "important time". Democrats impeach Trump in emergency session and demand action as massive radioactive cloud sweeps into Southeast Asia, killing millions.

Below the fold story number one:

World War Three seems to have broken out. Republicans stand behind Trump but one of the Republicans retiring from the Senate refuses to support him! Hundreds of thousands dead in Paris and Oakland. Critics claim attack on Oakland "Racist" as Trump says "It's filled with all kinds of undesirable people anyway". It's a record day for newspaper sales as the Internet becomes spotty across the country and events accelerate.

Below the fold story number two:

Trump refuses to go to Presidential bunker, instead choosing to visit one of his resorts for golfing, saying "Don't worry folks, it's all under control and we're carefully monitoring the situation at all times. Great people are on this one, the best let me tell you! No one is impeaching me. That's a lie, a vicious lie."

Third page analysis:

Is it a crime for the president to bomb Oakland. The Democrats look willing to test this one out, but as the Republican Senate stands firmly behind the President, and with the public mixed on the issue, the Democrats' gambit may prove their undoing in the upcoming Presidential election. But will the Presidential election even matter? Nuclear bombs seem to be obliterating great swaths of the planet and look likely to end life as we know it.