Monday, May 31, 2021

1.3 then?

Though I have broached the subject of an evolved iteration of Clerkmanifesto, a Clerkmanifesto 2.0, so to speak, I'm not sure I have spoken clearly about it, just in case anyone was interested.

No, I know. I was just speaking hypothetically. Someone could be interested. 

I mean, if people existed, somewhere, who were interested, other than you. So, then, I'm keeping them up to date. You're just sort of along for the ride.

You can roll down the window and admire the countryside.

So here's what's happening:

1. Clerkmanifesto is a blog on Google's blogger platform (don't worry, I only half understand what that means as well).

2. Google's support for "Blogger" seems to be withering before my eyes because I'm pretty sure they're strictly interested in new, shiny things and in very big things that make them zillions of dollars (I call them as I see them). Blogger is decidedly neither.

3. And while we're at it, I'd like for Clerkmanifesto to be able to spread its wings a little more after all these years, like a butterfly, to incorporate the widening scope of this blog.

4. This creates a situation where I am simultaneously running for my life and evolving into something different and, hopefully, better.

Thus, Clerkmanifesto 2.0!

What does this mean for you?

Who knows for sure. But...

1. I hope to migrate email notification so you will still get emails, if that's how you read this. They may look different.

2. If you visit here,, you'll probably be able to do so for awhile (a year, two?), but once 2.0 is official you'll probably want to go there instead. I'll try to make it not hurt.

3. Yes, this "2.0" already has a new web address and name. It's not clerkmanifesto. I will wait to reveal that name when we are ready for visitors. I am in just the early parts of building it right now, and though functionally it exists on the Internet, it's like a pit in the ground where I'm working out how to pour the foundation properly.


1. I am thinking of this as a Summer project, but I honestly don't know what it will take. The first big benchmark for the project is to get to a basic fundamental working website roughly how I want it to function. At that point I will reveal the name and invite you over to it. This stage will be a kind of early access where input would be deeply appreciated, and where I can iron out the kinks, refine, and fill in the content (much of it from the vast history of clerkmanifesto), and migrate subscribers. Maybe this can happen by the end of October?

2. Early access and clerkmanifesto will run simultaneously. The new site will at some point then become official and almost everything will redirect over there, though this site (clerkmanifesto) should remain functional and even somewhat active (in a duplicate way) as long as it is feasible and there is any point to it.

I'll keep you updated. 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

More fishes, more ponds


A few days ago I introduced you to the inordinate power you as a reader have in this little corner of the Internet. I gave the case of a kindly reader who left a generously positive comment on some pictures posted in this space, adding that they preferred the realistic pictures.

As tempting as it was to launch into an exhaustive digression about what exactly constitutes "realistic", I instead converted their comment into a vote, tabulated thusly:

Votes for realistic pictures:


Votes for abstract pictures:


Then I demanded a recount because the whole thing seemed fishy. After a recount the results looked like this:

Votes for realistic pictures:


Votes for abstract pictures:


"This can't be right!" I exclaimed, and hired lawyers. The lawyers took it to court, but then they quit because all the judges threatened to disbar them.

Then the whole thing started to feel very familiar. I got a very sick feeling in my tummy. And I decided I better go ahead and put in a whole bunch of realistic pictures.

So that's what I did!

It went okay.

But then after awhile I thought "Hey, doesn't second place deserve something too?" So I consulted the voting one more time, now accepting it as legitimate. It read as follows:

Votes for realistic pictures:


Votes for abstract pictures:


Abstract pictures came in close second, only one puny vote away from first place!

I felt sorry for it. So I thought it would be nice to give it a day of its own. 

This is that day!

Brace your eyes majority.


Saturday, May 29, 2021

Work injury


I was heading into one last quiet evening of work before a five day vacation involving Memorial Day and a possibly injudicious use of precious vacation time. Then it happened. From out of nowhere. A paper cut.


I screamed. Except I did it in a quiet, dignified way that looked more like this:

"Oh. Shoot."

Then I tried to make it bleed. It almost did. I mean, it was red, and it welled up a little, but not enough to form a drop or blottable amount of blood.

The cut goes right over the top knuckle on the back of my left thumb. I immediately visited every person who was available in the whole library:

A co-worker:

"Oh no! My beautiful vacation will be ruined by my horrible paper cut!" I exclaimed.

My bosses in their office:

"I got a paper cut! We need to fill out an incident report in case I lose my thumb!"

Then I went to the front desk to help people:

"Before I help you," I warned the library patrons. "I have to tell you that I got a paper cut, so my service won't be as good as usual."

They were willing to risk it.

Then it got quiet so I texted Grape:

"This represents the horrible pain of my paper cut" I wrote, and then I included this picture I had taken:

Then, finally, I sat down and wrote all about it in my blog, clerkmanifesto.

That's what you're reading.

And only now, finally, it doesn't hurt anymore.

Friday, May 28, 2021



One of my co-workers has been bringing in fruit lately. This co-worker was born and raised in Thailand so these are not your everyday fruits. They're more "sharing the fruits of my youth" fruits. These fruits are a lot of fun! I don't mean by this that an apple isn't fun. An apple can be tons of fun! Just think of all the fun you have had with apples! But these fruits are a little more adventurous.

Recently she brought in some dried jackfruit. This was sweet and intensely chewy, and I was surprised by how much I liked it. It was odd that I hadn't eaten it before. That might have had to do with the lack of romance in its name. Jackfruit? Seriously? Also, apparently, it's a big fruit and a fair bit of work to get at the flesh. I expressed to my co-worker how much I liked this dried jackfruit and soon she brought in some fresh jackfruit. This was even better, very firm, and I can best describe it as tasting like a cross between pineapple and banana. It was a little bit creamy when chewed.

A longer while ago she brought in tamarind, which I'd never just had cracked straight out of the pod. I loved these; dense, sweet, and tartly flavorful, and I found the seeds left over to be so pretty, like strange, dark teeth, that I was compelled to wash them and save them. They're in my drawer here at work somewhere. "Oh yeah." I say when I run into them while rummaging for something. "Those are my tamarind seeds."

Tonight we got durian! Durian is famously overpowering, said by some to smell of rot, and is banned in most public places in its native countries. She brought in this piece of fruit triple wrapped, unveiled it for smelling (it wasn't bad, but it was strong), and doled out our bites on individual forks. I have had durian ice cream once, so the flavor wasn't completely unfamiliar. I found it somewhat savory, a little bit garlicky maybe, cream? sage? I really couldn't say exactly. The flavor was clear enough, but it wasn't very sweet, and even not knowing the fruit I felt it probably wasn't a very good piece of durian, probably a bit under ripe. It would have been better with sweetness. But it was still interesting.

There is a YouTube channel I like called "Weird Explorer". On this channel the host has devoted himself to tasting every kind of fruit imaginable. He has tasted a ton, but he keeps going. There is more fruit out there than I have dreamed. I wouldn't mind tasting it all myself. But the truth is I probably won't be traveling to Columbia, or Vietnam to do so. But this generosity of my co-worker is a good start, and an easy one. Maybe my next step can be a little more adventurousness in my local markets. 

I can always find room for another little hobby, especially if it involves eating.

A piece of delicious jackfruit just before I ate it up.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Big fish, small pond


The Internet is a sponge.

Cause it sucks!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

No, see, because a sponge absorbs things, so it could be said to "suck" in a way, and when...

Yes, I agree Wikipedia is really nice.

I too find google maps useful.

Sure, street view is pretty amazing. I see where you're go...

Yes, I am on the Internet, and no, I don't think I suck.

So you didn't care for the joke?

The Internet is a sponge. 

A huge one! And if you go out to most places on the Internet and have something to say, it will affect absolutely nothing. It will just get swallowed up. I know. I tried.

However, if you find some place super tiny on the Internet you'd be surprised at how outsized your influence can be. This, right here, is a super tiny place on the Internet. And I am finding that unlike on Reddit, or on Amazon review pages, what I have to say here pretty much fills the place up. Whatever I say goes. I mean unless it's not funny, or p

No, I was getting to how it affects you. Hang in there.

Where was I?

Right. I was saying how it affects you.

Unlike on most of the Internet, around here if one has a comment, it has an extraordinary weight to it.

 Think of it this way:

If one is voting for President along with 100 million other people, one's vote has a lot of heavy lifting to do. It is a miniscule portion, full of compromise, and it is insignificant, hard to truly conceive of in its quark-like invisibility. 

Now imagine voting for President and being the only one voting.

We'd have some very different Presidents!

Anyway, that's how it is around here on this blog; write a comment on clerkmanifesto and one will be in a "one person voting for president" situation. 

Which is why this blog doesn't look very much like America.

One of my rare, appreciated, and regular commenters recently remarked on a series of photographs I posted, saying that they confessed to having a preference for the realistic pictures. Try that kind of thing on most of the Internet and you'll probably be banned for life for violating the terms of service. Around here it's just:

Oh, a vote for realistic pictures? How many votes are there so far for the abstract ones? 


So, one to zero.

Checking my math and, yes, one vote wins.

Here are some realistic pictures I recently took then:

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

New Phones


Good news here at the library I work at. We got new phones!

The old phones were weird and complicated, with lots of contextual buttons that only worked, or worked differently, depending upon the situation. They were not really designed for, or suitable for a library, but seemed more like they would work well in a traditional, albeit gigantic, office. 

But these new phones are simple!

At the top half of the phone there is a large display screen. There are five buttons on the left of it. There are five buttons on the right of it. And there are four buttons underneath it. The screen has pictures and symbols next to some of, but not all of those buttons. For instance, the seventh button is next to a red and white number "3" accompanying what might be a left pointing arrow over a pair of racing goggles, or possibly it's a bow tie. If it's a bow tie I'm super interested to try that button. It seems fancy!

Under the screen and button layout is the main phone face, which is all buttons. It is also super simple, like, for cavemen simple. You might not even have to be able to read because there are so many pictures of things; a sun, a cassette tape, an open book, a circling arrow, a red bowtie, a crossed out corndog (maybe this is so you can eat while talking, which would be useful to me). In the top middle of all this, above the numeric keyboard part, there is a big black round rubber ring with a dot for each cardinal direction. I tried pressing the bottom part of this ring and the whole screen changed to say "Add favorites from the self care portal."

That's incredibly nice. I am trying to do more self care. I'll look around for that self care portal later today. Maybe the "3" with the arrow over the bowtie is some kind of portal to self care?

I'm not saying I understand everything about this phone right away, but taken with a spirit of discovery I'm thinking these phones will be a lot of fun. For instance, I just pressed a button under "Self-view".  It said "Self view is not available while shutter is closed". It turns out there is a little camera thing sticking up at the top of the phone. I twisted it a tiny bit and it opened. I hit "Self-view" again. 

There I was on the screen!

I am beautiful.

So I did some self care. 

I think I might have found the self care portal!

Tuesday, May 25, 2021



Today I am here to sing the praises of texting!

I never thought I would like texting. But now that I have a phone I am surprisingly fond of it. It has connected me with old friends in a way that all the pseudo magical garbage of the Internet never quite did. I think it might be the low floor of quality it requires. I'm so tired of all this quality. Not everything can be as good as this blog you're reading!  I need a super low point of entry. Writing Grape an email always demanded coherent sentences, or a reason for a message. Texting is not like that. Texting is free. Texting is 'it's the thought that counts' because anything more significant requires tedious thumbwork. 

Watch, I'll text him now:

Oh, right, I don't have a way to show you my text.

Maybe if you gave me your number I could text it?

The point is though, that I texted him. It took four seconds, and much like sending my other friend Jim a picture of cheese at a grocery store, it was the thought that counted. And I barely even had to think the thought! I didn't worry if they liked it. I am not waiting for a response. I require no thanks. It was merely a microsecond of hanging out on my terms. I don't really have a lot of minutes or hours or days or years I am keen to bandy about, but microseconds? I'm still willing to spend microseconds freely.

Sure, seize the moment! Live for today. Reach for the stars. But there's plenty of time for a text first: 

Hey friend, am reaching for stars now.

Monday, May 24, 2021



Many people ask me:

"As a person who writes a blog post every day without exception, and has done so for years, what do you do when you can't think of anything to write?"

Well, they would ask me that if they read my blog, or weren't shy, or they were a real person, or whatever their thing is. 

But if they did ask me, here is how I would answer:

I can always think of something to write!


It's amazing!

But if, hypothetically, I couldn't think of anything, I would pose myself a hypothetical question posed by a hypothetical reader. Then I would answer it.

"But what if you couldn't think of a hypothetical question, or a hypothetical reader, or a hypothetical answer?"

I would...

"And your fingers were temporarily injured so you couldn't type, and your Internet was down, and you were really thirsty, and you were in a bad mood, and you had, um, I don't know, a cold, or maybe you were really sleepy?"

Oh. I guess I'd just show a picture or something.

"That was what I was going to guess!"

Nice job then.

Thanks for...

"So what picture are you going to show?"

Um, none. I had an idea for a blog post, so it didn't come to that.

"If you had an idea for a blog post why was there a hypothetical question? Actually there were several."

That was just a coincidence.

"So, I think a bird picture would be good."



"No, the other one, okay?"

The legs?

"Yes, please."


Sunday, May 23, 2021

My favorite day


My favorite day once was October 27th. I was born on that day. But a couple decades into that preference I took stock of the presents and results of that day and found that I may have been rash. Eventually I even came to where I might have even thought October 27th had come out particularly badly, though I have made some headway on that. But at the very least, for all the personal hype about the day, it had some serious issues.

I mean... life. You may put your own spin on the thing, be thankful, love it, all those famous approaches, but any reasonable person has to see some of the profound structural problems involved.

Luckily for me May 23rd came along, not only taking care of so many grave concerns I had with October 27, but it is an absolute wonder on its own. 

I mean, just look. Look at all the flowers...

No. I don't have any pictures. It's a metaphor.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The progression of art


I have an old memory of a book, possibly one of those Time/Life ones, about the mind and about mental illness, that examined a noted painter who went slowly mad. It showed his paintings of his cat as he was losing his mind. The paintings started out very beautiful and naturalistic, moved into something wild and expressive, and ended in a rough, psychedelic explosion that was barely cat-like at all.

I have been reflecting upon this as I work through my latest pictures of irises. 

I have now been avidly photographing for well over a year, and since I am very much of a nature photographer I have been cycling through the regular seasonal phenomenon in a second round of photographic encounters; the Spring robins, magnolias, duck couples, baby squirrels, tulips, lilacs, and now irises.

This will be easier to show you.

Here is one of my earliest pictures of an iris, where I was simply satisfied to record a fair image of the flower:

From here I moved more closely in, intrigued at the prospect of filling more of the frame with the complexity and beauty of the flower's detail and elegance:

This close up view intrigued me. With light and intimacy I could pursue the more expressive aspects of the flower:

But by now I felt like I was driving to the inner secrets of the flower, and I longed to pull them forth:

What if I could extract the very soul of this masterpiece of nature!!!!

What if I could peer into its distorted heart?

Could I even break it down into the very constituency of its atoms, becoming like a god in my scrutiny and reassembly of its secret universe!!!!!!

On the other hand maybe the whole thing is simply a natural progression. Maybe I just like to explore new ways of looking.

Not that I am any kind of a Picasso, but here is a very early Picasso:

And here's another one from much later in his career:

Maybe I already have a picture of an iris, dozens, but I still want to keep photographing them.

On the other hand, maybe I'd just like a cat...

Friday, May 21, 2021

Being reread to


I am tempted, the next time I am asked "What are you reading?", to answer

"Oh. I don't read books. I just reread them."

Moments ago I finished rereading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and may soon reread what I think was his second collection, Medium Raw. Holes was a reread just before the Anthony Bourdain, and I've talked about that one in this space a few days ago. I am also halfway through rereading The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, a book I have read at least half a dozen times, which means I have reread it at least five times.

But the truth is I am reading so much these days, and there is a fair bit of new books in that mix too. I have recently finished reading for the first time Short, Counting by Sevens, and Project Hail Mary. If I must make some pithy quip of an answer to "What are you reading?" it would be more accurate (and equally not all that funny) to reply pompously

"Oh. I don't read books. I have people read them to me."

Anthony Bourdain himself read me Kitchen Confidential and did a masterful job of it, very respectful of the material. He seemed to really understand the author. He was way better than the guy who read Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. I didn't like that reader, but after awhile I couldn't tell if it was his fault, or if I just wasn't happy with the first person main character as the writer wrote him. Counting by Sevens had a terrific reader and almost went the opposite way, the book is so excellent that all a reader really needs to do is sort of stay out of the way, so maybe she was a great reader or maybe almost anyone would have been with such a terrific book.

All this being read to, and reading so much, is attributable to my recent revolution at work; listening to books through my phone. This brilliant new habit makes me spaced out, disconnected from the work environment, and hard to interact with. Someone asking for my help at the front desk is like slowly waking me up from a dream. Before my new habit no one would have had to even ask for my help. There is no denying it's a downgrade.

On the other hand I have become such a prolific and dedicated shelver and processer of material that all the work of the library is getting done curiously early, so who cares if I'm like a heroin addict, slumped in a corner, bluetooth bud shoved in my ear, vaguely staring into space with a dreamy look in my eyes for most of the evening. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

My advice


People at work ask me for personal advice. I am good at advice because I practice giving advice every day, here, in this very space, to the whole world. 

So these people say to me "I have a problem. Can I have some advice?"

And I reply "Yes." And I sit up straight and listen.

They tell me the problem.

It's a tough one.

I say "You should do this, maybe."

They get a little tensed up. Then they respond that they can't do that because of some other problem.

So I think more carefully about it. 

"You should definitely do this, then." I tell them, having considered it and feeling pretty confident about my solution.

They get a little more tense.

"I can't do that." They tell me. "Because of this complicating factor that did not get mentioned earlier.


So then I'm quiet for a bit.

"I'm really sorry about your problem." I say seriously. "It sounds so difficult and awful."

They relax for a moment. "Thank you." They reply gravely, and they walk away satisfied.

Like I said, I am good at advice.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Famous blog writer answering questions


Being a world renowned blog writer has brought me a great deal of notoriety at the library I work at. And as much as I strive to do the normal library work I love, and to provide the library services that all the more normal and less famous library workers everywhere seek to provide, my public stature and my illustriousness in the world of libraries and literature sometimes cannot help but make its effect known in my daily work life. While I am here working at the library what I most want to do is answer questions about our hold systems, hours, and library cards, and maybe to get some shelving done. But it would be ungrateful of me to turn down requests for autographs and selfies, and if someone has a question about my famous friends, like Bob Dylan or George Clooney, or is keen to hear juicy backstage secrets about my blog writing, it is generally easier to indulge them, and it is more gracious than rebuffing them to get to the shelving I am so keen to take care of.

Nevertheless, I sometimes find myself answering many of the same questions about my blog, my literary work, and life as one of the most notorious people on the Internet, over and over and over. And in an attempt to ease the burden of that, and maybe get a bit more shelving done, I on occasion like to report in this space some of the more common questions I am asked by fans on the library floor along with my answers to them. It is hoped that perhaps by seeing questions here answered, devoted blog readers, should they happen into my library, will be more prepared to keep our interaction to a more simple appreciation of my work, and perhaps a quick autograph, and allow us to take care of their regular business with the library in a more timely manner.

And so with that said here are a few of the questions I have fielded already so many times in the past couple of months at my library:

Q: Do you have any state tax forms?

A: Thank you so much for your kind words. While surely I could live off of my many streams of income from the enterprises of my blog, clerkmanifesto, my love of libraries keeps me coming back here, and I seek only to help with your normal, mundane library experience as best I can.  

Q: Excuse me, are you...

A: Why how lovely of you to recognize me. Yes I am. But the whole celebrity thing is so unreal. It's helping the little people like you that truly fulfills me. Your support means the world to me.

Q: Do you happen to have...

A: Ha ha ha! Of course I do! Here you go! 

I do hope that helps! And perhaps now I can get to my mundane, yet ever so meaningful library work. Though, of course, if you have more questions, don't be afraid to ask! 

I'm here all the time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Upset at library

As I sit on a sheltered computer during my dinner break at the library a feverish discussion has broken out in my hearing. My co-workers and a manager are getting pretty worked up about the idea that has been floated by the County that the minimum number of people required to staff this library is two. This is all in early anticipation of the tightening of the purse strings for the library pursuant to the county's... issues.

I can see why my colleagues are worked up. This is a big library. Under normal conditions three or four is probably just the minimum number to staff the circulation desk alone; machine, phones, and front desk. I suppose reference could make a claim to require three or four people too; kid's room, main desk, phones, and maybe teens, though I am far more skeptical as to their usefulness. Five to eight is a minimum for the building according to our history, but that's just in a pinch. Over the course of anything going on for more than a day, shelving, delivery, holds, customer service, and eventually programming will quickly begin to crumble in the face of these minimum numbers.

I think once, a few years ago, during a major blizzard, we had just three people total to staff this building. That was pretty fun really, albeit made easier by the fact that often that day we had only one or two library patrons in the entire building.

On the one hand the county is not completely off base here, we are wildly overstaffed these days and have set our work rates, managerial schemes, professional development and wages in relation to it. Handled deftly, and with wisdom, better pay, and the right people, this library could be run better with half the people. 

But on the other hand I don't think any of that's really what the county is thinking about.

What then, you wonder, do I think the county is thinking here?

Oh. No. I don't think of the county as sentient.